Friday, September 30, 2005

Google Search Tips 2005

More than I've ever used ...
Google Search Tips 2005

...You can find synonyms of words. E.g. when you search for [house] but you want to find “home” too, search for [~house]...
Fascinating for geeks like me.

FileMaker Pro 8: notes from an old user

I'll update this blog posting as I start using FileMaker Pro 8. I've used FileMaker Pro 3.0 on Mac and PC for about 10 years, so this is rather a big upgrade. Basically I finally decided it was time to retire more of Classic. FM 3.0 worked just fine, so there was no great drive to change. I teach at the U of MN on the side, so I qualified for an educational price.
1. Whatever the (legally binding) shrinkwarp may say, you may (illegally) install FM Pro on all the machines on your LAN -- Mac and PC. However, only one copy may be active at a time (in my testing, however, this didn't happen. I wonder if the XP/Norton firewall blocks this). Reminds me of the old Borland license -- from Borland's glory days. One copy in use at a time; except that was legal with Borland.

2. It opens FM Pro 3.0 databases quite well. The database file format appears to be unchanged from FM 7.

3. To my suprise the databases remain quite compact. The .fp7 file was slightly smaller after conversion than the .fp3 file.

4. FM Pro 8 is NOT a Cocoa application. Sigh. It's a Carbon reject. No services available.

5. I don't think I've ever skipped five releases of an application and seen so few obvious changes. It looks and feels just like .fp3. If I wasn't switching from Classic to OS X I'd be annoyed, but I really wasn't looking for new features. Update: It helps to read the small but extremely well done paper manual. A lot has changed -- all well planned extensions of the old functionality -- such as their relational model. I use Microsoft Access fairly extensively to manipulate GBs of data; I don't know if FM could handle that load, but in terms of 'content management' it seems have many things I miss in Microsoft Access.

6. The web sharing works, but the layout looked pretty bad in Safari. I'll have to try Firefox. I suspect it's optimized for IE.

7. FileMaker 8/Mac is significantly uglier than FM 3. The GUI is just not laid out as well. It looks industrial. FileMaker 8/Win, however, is really ugly - even worse than FM 8/Mac. Far worse than FM 3/Win. It's clear what OS this application targets.

8. FM 8 seems pretty fast, even on my old G3 iBook.

9. Under OS X 10.3.9 FM 8 installs in the shared applications folder. In 10.4.2 it installs in the user application folder. In XP it asks one's preference (which seems to violate the shrinkwrap license). This is annoying if one uses an Admin account for installs but runs using a non-Admin account. You can manually change the install folder.

10. I have a posting on how to import a Microsoft Access table via ODBC. Ugly.

11. There are no tool tips. Let me repeat that. NO tool tips. This is not a good sign.

12. I thought I'd be able to put FM data on my Palm. Alas, they haven't released the Palm app for version 8. Also, it's $50 or so. I'll have to see if it supports data encryption on the Palm -- if not it won't be worthwhile for me.

13. From the help file "Note In Windows, Microsoft Access can import only 32 or fewer fields at one time via ODBC from a FileMaker Pro database file." Huh?

14. More on #13. I actually sort of got FMPro ODBC serving to work. Sort of. (I've since succeeded with a small test file.) I got as far as linking a table in Access, but Access complained about an illegal character in a column (field) name. Wow, was this weird. Enabling ODBC sharing in FM is easy, but Access needs an ODBC DSN. So you need first to install a driver. The FileMaker web site says they don't provide one, but, actually, they do. It's hidden away on the CD in a developer area. You install the Sequelink driver. Then you use Microsoft's ODBC Data Source utility to crate a DSN. For IP address I entered 'localhost' and the secret port number is 2399 (it's in the documentation in an obscure spot). Despite what FM tells you, you need to know the account (default is Admin in FM with null password). This is so ugly ...
As of 12/05 I haven't done a great deal with this app, but overall it looks and feels like an application that's not gotten much TLC in the past five years or so. Given how creaky it feels I really wonder if FileMaker will able to port the codebase to run natively on the OS X Intel platform. I would be it won't show up there for quite a while, if ever!

Update 1/2/06: I ran the 8.02 OS X updater. If you run it as a standard user, it errors out towards the end of the update process. Some kind of access error. You have to run it as an admin user. This isn't documented in the update readme. The updater doesn't check and warn the user. Utter garbage.

Unfortunately running as a non-admin user destroys the FileMaker install. You have to reinstall the original version from scratch then apply the updater.

FileMaker has the same festering smell that Palm has produced for the past 3-4 years.

Update 9/18/08: This is a good place to document an incredibly annoying bug/design flaw I've run into before, but haven't mentioned.

Let's assume you configure FileMaker with user-specific security privileges. A user has no way to escalate privileges within FileMaker, so every time they start FM they get limited privileges. It looks like there's no escape.

The answer is to close the database file then option-click to reopen it. It will then open with a un/pw dialog and you can enter the admin account information.

FM 8 runs pretty well on 10.5.5. I think the web sharing won't work.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Using an LCD screen protector on an iPod Nano

Credit slashdot thread:

I wouldn't have thought this trivial tip required a web page, but it is a lovely page. Good value for the advertising!: How to protect your iPod Nano Screen. I'd been planning to do this. Radio Shack sells this stuff.

iPod Scratch Removers: I don't fret the scratches save protecting the display.

Google axes Tivo

Watch shows through Google TV | This is Money
GOOGLE is to begin broadcasting television programmes over the internet. The search engine has already signed up an American channel to provide programmes for Google TV and is in talks with the BBC to broadcast its shows as well.

The search engine hopes to build up a massive online database of programmes that can be searched and watched from any computer, with users able to search for episodes of any show from broadcasters who sign up to the service.

It will also let British viewers watch hit television shows from America months before they are broadcast in this country.

Search engine expert Danny Sullivan said: 'Google wants to become the world's biggest video recorder, and they are meeting with all of the major broadcasters to make it happen. It could mean we can see episodes of US shows like Lost before they are broadcast here, and also catch previous episodes in a series we may have missed.'
What do they put in the water at Google? For this to work they must be planning on an immense amount of capacity. I wonder if they'll do something I (and many others!) thought about years ago -- statistical start times. So if you only stream from the repository when there are enough approximately simultaneous users to justify. With enough user and a bit of delay and a bit of client side caching you can synchronize your video streams -- so much less bandwidth demand.

Nano: the screen does have a problem

Via Digg and ars technica:
Vendor issue blamed for Apple nano screen problems

Breaking news at this late hour brings some clarity to cracked LCD issues experienced by some early adopters of the iPod nano. Apple will, as of today, be accepting returns of iPod nanos whose LCD screens have experienced the spontaneous cracking problem. According to The Wall Street Journal, which quotes Phil Schiller, Apple's VP of world-wide-product marketing, a vendor issue was at the core of the problem.
The Nano is as scratchable as any iPod, and smudges show more on the black iPod. It's also pocketable -- so far more abused. The display must have a protective clear cover applied (Radio Shack carries these for a few dollars).

There is, however, a real problem with the LCD spontaneously cracking. Apple will now cover this under warrantee. It sounds like it will be fixed, but it may delay shipping.

Cool OSX Apps: excellent review site

Cool OSX Apps is an "Andrew suggestion", a tip from a friend of mine known for his geeky good taste. It's quite excellent; in the ten posts I looked at I saw 3 apps I'd like to try out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MaxEmail & GMail = a great way to pass voice messages around

MaxEmail is marketed as a service for sending (PDF, Word, etc) and receiving (PDF, TIFF) faxes. It works quite well for that, but it has one other feature. The fax number is also a voice mail number. Voice messages are digitized and emailed; they can also be read on MaxEmail.

I love the voice mail facility -- as a substitute for the old fashioned tape/digital recorder. When I think of something I need to do, and I can't enter it into my Palm, I hit the quick dial for my MaxEmail number. When I get a connection, I hit 1 on the phone pad and I leave my message (hitting 1 bypasses the longish greeting message). It shows up in my work and home email, including my Gmail account (in Gmail the message is tagged by one of my filters). I listen to it and take action. Every voice message, of course, is attached to a time stamped email.

My wife uses the same service to send me messages. She's mobile and often do child wrangling, so I can process her messages from my desk and often act on them. Unlike standard voice mail these messages don't interrupt meetings, and I can even manage them when I'm on conference calls.

Far superior than any dictaphone or handheld recorder or phone based voice note service or PDA recorder. I think Maxemail should market this more than they do.

Update 9/29/05. One other twist. If you use iTunes to handle WAV files, then when you open the file it is copied into the iTunes library. There you can listen to it. If you want to keep it, you retitle it, add metadata, etc. iTunes is a very handy way to manage these sound fragments. Of course this library can sync to one's iPod -- handy way to catch up on prior thoughts. (Shades of the future where we'll be able to search metadata indexed AV streams of our everyday life, great stuff for old tired brains ...)

Good OS X Spotlight management summary (macintouch)

Spotlight is far better than the five different drive indexing software packages I've tested on my XP boxes. It is, however, still one or two revs away from really working. (Apparently, this is a harder technical challenge than one might think.)

This Macintouch reader report is a concise summary on how to manage Spotlight -- until it's fixed. One other tidbit. I was having a problem with OS X always mounting my iPod -- even though I'd set auto-mount off. Spotlight was the culprit. I dragged the iPod disk icon to Spotlight and OS X stopped mounting it. (PS. Interesting UI glitch. If you try to drag the icon off the Finder bar it simply vanishes. This is a "feature" -- it allows one to cull images displayed on the Finder bar. It's not all that intuitive as to how one restores them! Use the finder preferences to remove all instances of the icon class (ex. all network drives) then save prefs then add all back in.)
Mac OS X 10.4.2 (Part 31)Jeff Mincey

Regarding Spotlight and its supposed incomplete indexing of drive volumes, there is a procedure one can follow which will force Spotlight to re-index a volume and thus spare the user from having to open and close each individual Microsoft Word document he (she) wants indexed.

Chris Breen offers this: 'Open the Spotlight system preference, click the Privacy tab, click the plus button, and add the volume you want to reindex. Wait five minutes, select the volume in the privacy area, and click the minus button to remove it. Spotlight will index the volume again from the ground up.'

Chris goes on to say... 'Before reindexing the drive, repair permissions. Also, if the drive has just recently been indexed, give it another day or so before reindexing. It‚s possible that Spotlight hasn‚t completely finished indexing the drive even though you‚re allowed to use it.'

Once an entire volume is indexed for Spotlight, then individual new files or files newly revised and saved, will be indexed on a case by case basis thereafter. One can also perform this operation (and others) from the command line, as this tip (from Mac OS X Hints) illustrates:

To turn off indexing;

sudo mdutil -i off /Volumes/hard_drive_name

To remove the index;

sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/hard_drive_name

Physically remove the .Spotlight directories from the root of each drive.

cd /
sudo rm -fr .Spotlight-V100

To turn it back on;

sudo mdutil -i on /Volumes/hard_drive_name
ThinkSecret reports 10.4.3 has over 500 fixes. I'm expecting Spotlight will get much better in a few weeks. It is overly aggressive about deciding what it's going to index.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Firefox 1.5beta on OS X: Crisp!

Firefox 1.5 beta One is out for OS X:Mozilla Firefox Project (Development Information).

It's impressive. I tried Camino 1.0a yesterday, but it had too much type lag on a slower machine to be useful. In contrast, Firefox 1.5 is very snappy. It feels much faster than 1.0 on my old G3 iBook and it's even faster than Safari.

Camino's aesthetics weren't the best either. Fonts and buttons were a bit off. Firefox looks at least as good as Camino (neither can rival Safari though).

I think Firefox 1.5 will be quite astounding.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A clever product: cellboost disposable battery for iPod

I'd forgotten my firewire cable, and my 3G iPod was running down. I was facing an undefended airplane trip!

Panic set in, but I caught site of this at an airport store -- for $10. It worked perfectly. It doesn't lock onto the iPod so you can't wave your Pod around -- the battery will go flying. It worked well in my headphone case.

They claim 8 hours of life. Based on the size and heft I suspect it's a LiOn battery internally. I think they have a very good shelf life, so one of these will probably see you through a few separate crises. I'm carrying one in my luggage from now on!

Friday, September 23, 2005

iFill: stream radio directly to the iPod

It's in beta, but a very cool service. Good for listening to NPR ...I wonder if it will do commercial skip ... (that would be radical)

iFill - Griffin Technology

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

RapidWeaver: a personal web management tool for OS X

I still do my web work using FP 98 on XP. I'll change over someday. On OS X there's nVU and now Rapidweaver (which has gotten good buzz): Realmac Software - RapidWeaver

At last: a SOHO document scanner for OS X

This is potentially quite interesting, a document scanner for OS X:
Macworld UK - Apple Expo: Fujitsu comes to Mac: "Fujitsu announced its brand-new desktop colour image scanner - 'ScanSnap for Macintosh - at Apple Expo.

The 'ScanSnap for Macintosh' is a compact, upright desktop A4 image scanner. It also offers the capacity to scan documents into accurate PDFs using Fujitsu's software, which also lets those resultant PDFs be fully searchable by Mac OS X's Spotlight search feature.

The machine scans 15 pages per minute (A4, portrait, 150dpi) in the one-sided simplex mode and 30 images per minute in duplex mode (A4, portrait, 150 dpi), scanning front and back pages in just one single pass.

The scanner automatically recognizes whether documents are black & white or colour, and even deletes unwanted blank pages.

It ships with a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF) and is about the size of a UK phone book. It supports output resolutions of 150, 200, 300 and 600dpi, with an optical resolution of 600 dpi.
This is for documents, not images. I'm going to look at it.

Digital TV: much easier to capture to a computer

TVMini - Watch Digital TV on your Mac

This tiny device is all that's required to capture broadcast digital TV and capture it on a computer. Good for PBS?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Inexpensive solution for migrating outlook data to iCal, etc

Little Machines:Outlook to Mac$10

macosxhints - 10.4: Limit a Smart Folder search to a specific folder

macosxhints - 10.4: Easily limit a Smart Folder to a specific folder
The solution? First navigate to the folder to which you want to limit the search. Hit Command-F, or in the menu, go to File -> Find. The "tab bar" at the top of the search criteria window now shows the folder you are currently in as one of the options. Select it, and then you can (as always) specify the other search criteria to your liking. Hit the Save button, and you now have a Smart Folder restricted to a specific folder (and its sub-folders).

Google secure access -- and one ring to rule them

So Google finally launched their wireless service. In bloody San Francisco. So what's wrong with the twin cities?

Ok, so that's no surprise. This is the interesting part -- Google Secure Access.

There's a deep problem with current wireless networks. The transmission between a wireless client and wireless access point is only encrypted (can't be read) when the access point handles authentication and security. Problem is there's all kinds of ways to do the encryption and no easy way to provide useful passwords to everyone using an access point -- whether across a city or in a cafe.

So the authentication/encryption has to move from the access point to a central service. Keep the access point stupid and simple. That's what Google is doing. I hope they're using a VPN standard and that it will work with non-Windows machines (Google has a disturbing tendency to only support Windows).

Google secure access, combined with Gmail, is turning Google into a vast identity management service. Next up is providing backup service and Google's PayPal annihilator.

There's no way Google won't be taking out PayPal. eBay must be in panic mode now. I like Google and despise Microsoft, but I hope Microsoft isn't completely zombied by their claustrophobic bureaucracy. We will need a counterbalance to Google someday soon.

Update: Apparently they're using a standard VPN solution that works on the Mac, though it's not flawless.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Automator action downloads from Apple

Apple - Mac OS X Downloads - Automator Actions

I haven't figured out what Automator is good for (I'm warming to Spotlight though) -- but this page might have enough actions to make it useful!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Portraits and prints update via Macintouch -- direct access to iPhoto images

MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh: "Portraits & Prints 2.1 can import, adjust, catalog, and print digital images, with captions, support for email and online printing, and integrated template downloads. This release adds direct access to iPhoto images, an editable Photo Information panel, support for iPhoto information in templates, a new Collage set of templates, and other changes. Portraits & Prints is $30 ($50 for the Pro Edition) for Mac OS X 10.2.8 and up."

Interesting ebook from 'take control' series on network security

Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security

I've been interested in this topic lately. I think I'll buy this one. (PDF, $10). From an email:
... The wireless network security audit is, in fact, the last major section of the ebook, ...discussing common ways of restricting wireless network access that are akin to those bathroom door locks that can be picked with a paperclip ... show you how to encrypt your data in transit to protect it from prying eyes anywhere, which is particularly helpful when you're using insecure hot spots while traveling. Glenn also wrote a great section on securing small office wireless networks, complete with details on choosing VPN hardware and software, and on setting up 802.1X for secure Wi-Fi logins.

You can read more about the ebook, download a free 31-page sample, and place an order at:

<http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/wifi-security.html?14@@!pt=TRK-0023-TCANNOUNCE>

We also just released the 1.2 update to "Take Control of Your AirPort Network," Glenn Fleishman's 161-page ebook about setting up, extending the range of, maintaining, and troubleshooting wireless networks with a focus on Apple's AirPort networking gear.... can save $2.50 by buying with "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

iTunes 5 - don't upgrade

I noted a Gordon's Tech: iTunes 5.0 Windows bug on import? glitch on a test install and decided to stick with 4.9 on my main library. Sounds like that was wise. Hold off on iTunes 5.0 for now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Jon Udell scores a half-hour technical interview with Gates

I haven't listened to it, but I'll add it to my iPod sometime. Udell is brilliant, and the topics of the interview are not the usual pablum. I'd like here Gates answers.

Jon Udell: An interview with Bill Gates from PDC 2005: "Today's half-hour podcast is an interview with Bill Gates, following a morning of keynotes at the PDC. Topics of discussion include:

* The relationship of Office 12 to Vista and .NET
* How the .NET CLR and runtime will become widespread
* High-level semantics: CLR objects or XML?
* LINQ, or language-integrated query, Anders Hejlsberg's long-term ambition now coming to fruition
* The RSS data web, notification, SOAP/REST synergy, enterprise syndication
* WPF/E, aka Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere, aka portable Avalon
* Why, given the downleveling of the original Longhorn 'pillars' to XP, enterprises would still want to upgrade to Vista."

My favorite Nano review -- the register

Apple iPod Nano | The Register

Why it probably makes sense to buy the 2GB model:
The Nano ships in two capacities, 2GB and 4GB. I went for the 2GB because 4GB isn't anywhere near enough for me to store all my music, and besides that's what my 20GB iPod is for - so my rationale is that you might as well save 40 [pounds], since you're going to have to pick and choose your tracks no matter which capacity you go with. Apple reckons that the 2GB Nano will store 500 songs, with the 4GB holding 1000. Of course, how much you actually get onto any device depends on the bit rate at which you encode your music and the codec you use. Like all iPods, the Nano supports two codecs AAC, MP3, AIFF, WAV, Apple Lossless and Audible.
Alas, we're on the zero gadget growth rule at our house. In order to buy the Nano, we have to find something to get rid of. That's not as easy as it sounds -- I don't have any gadgets that I don't rely on. I'm not ready to give up a digital camera in order to add a Nano.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Turn your $3000 laptop into a $100 audio recorder

Via MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh.

I actually like this sort of application. It's on my list to try.

Recorder.xhead 4.0 is an audio recorder and player intended primarily for voice recording. It supports major audio formats (including AIFF, AAC, MP3, and WAV) and can record from any internal or external sound input device including a built-in internal microphone, iSight camera microphone, digital video camera microphone, or bluetooth headset. This release adds vox recording, which monitors the input source, activates recording when the input volume reaches a specified level, and stops recording once the audio level drops below a specified threshold. It also adds automatic saves at specified intervals, FTP upload, pitch control on playback, and support for RSS and for iTunes Store tags to publish podcasts. Recorder.xhead is $10 for Mac OS X 10.2 through 10.4."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Nisus Writer Express - a real alternative to Word on the Mac?

Nisus Writer Express Features

One feature caught my eye: "Inheritable Character, Paragraph, and Note Styles".

I like Pages and this sounds good too. So two Word alternatives. I want to test the two out with my wife.

Update 9/9: The main thing Emily needs is something that handles Word documents seamlessly. Pages doesn't do the trick because it translates first to pages, then you have to export. Too confusing. AbiWord is another option; it uses its own file format (which I hope/pray is the OpenOffice format) but if you open a Word document it saves and edits as Word.

I'm not sure what Nisus does here but I think Pages may not work for Emily.

Update 9/10/05: AbiWord worked pretty well, but I'm very impressed with Nisus writer. Default format is RTF, but if you open a Word document it saves it as word. Good trial policy but you can't print without a watermark on the last page. Nice outliner styles, even though it's not really an outliner. Much as a like much of Pages I don't like yet another file format. Apple hasn't made it an open spec as far as I know.

On reflection I'm thinking Nisus might be ahead of AbiWord. Interestingly the two share some code, I think they use the same open source code for word document management.

Mac OS X: How to remove and recreate an inaccessible keychain

Solving keychain problems in OS X.

Mac OS X: How to remove and recreate an inaccessible keychain: "Mac OS X: How to remove and recreate an inaccessible keychain"

Mac OS X: How to recover a home folder

Mac OS X: How to recover a home folder (directory)

Via Macintouch. What to do when you archive someone's home directory and want to restore it afterwords.

iTunes 5.0 Windows bug on import?

I tested out 5.0 on my PC (haven't touched my operational iTunes library yet). I cleaned out the old library and dropped a folder of 3086 songs on it.

It failed to correctly attach the metadata (artist, album) for about 8 of them. In iTunes 4.x the same files show correct metadata.

I've not seen this problem on prior versions of iTunes/PC. I'll hold off on updating my main iTunes setup (Mac) for a while.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hotel blogger: you can check in, but you can never leave ...

I created a new blogger account to help debug problems I'm having with Blogger. The new account had the same bugs. Once I was done testing I wanted to delete the account and free up the user name.

Can't be done.

From Blogger, there's no exit:
Blogger Help : How do I cancel my account?: "How do I cancel my account?

We do not currently have a way for users to delete their own accounts...

OS X Chess.app -- is it easier in Tiger than Panther -- or does it learn?

OS X includes a pretty darned impressive chess game game. The marble skin in Tiger gives the clearest pieces.

I'm no chess player, and my 8 yo is even worse, so we play it in 'fastest' (dumbest mode). Only it seems to behave differently in Tiger and Panther.

On my G3 iBook running Panther it tends to beat us fairly handily -- even in 'fastest' mode and even when we cheat and 'take back' dumb moves. On my far more powerful G5 iMac, however, I can beat it fairly easily in that mode.

So what's the story?

Does it learn? (God, I hope not.) Is there a bug in the 10.3.9 version so it behaves as though it were in mid-range smarts? Did Apple dumb it down for Tiger (thank you)? I'm curious.

Update 9/14/05: I'm convinced there are a few bugs. I think in 10.3.9 the prefs don't always work -- sometimes Chess.app works at its default setting despite what the gui shows. In 10.4.2 Chess.app at its lowest setting is very beatable (it looks one move ahead, so it will quickly trade a pawn for a queen). On the other hand in 10.4.2 we saved a game with a bishop that couldn't be moved. He was stuck!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The sad story of Palm Desktop -- OS X version

I use Missing Sync on my OS X machine and sync my wife's Palm to Apple's (feeble) calendaring and contact applications. Even ePocrates works, thanks to the bundled AvantGo conduit. So I'm far away from Palm Desktop for OS X. Still, I think it's worth mentioning just how bad this software is.
MacInTouch: timely news and tips about the Apple Macintosh

Art McGee raised a red flag about more file-permission abuse by bad installers:

I have just examined the contents of the Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Revision C package installer, and I have come to the conclusion that either PalmOne is intentionally trying to damage our computers, or the software is a trojan horse that someone uploaded in place of the real software.

After the program files are installed, the installer runs a shell script called "postflight" that attempts to "fix" any permissions issues which may prevent the program from running properly. Unfortunately, the script violates the most basic programming principle in the universe - thou shalt not alter the files of programs other than thyself - and it does it so blatantly that I can only assume malicious intent. At the end of the script, it runs a final set of commands to change permissions (The "$2" variable is replaced at runtime by "/"):..

While any bad changes to the "/", "/Applications", or "/Library" directories can be easily fixed by repairing permissions or issuing another single command, the most OUTRAGEOUS and potentially damaging change is the last one:

sudo chmod -R 775 "$2Library/Application Support"
sudo chown -R :admin "$2Library/Application Support"

The "/Library/Application Support" directory is where many programs place critical system-wide configuration and program files that are referenced on an as-needed basis. This is a directory whose permissions should NEVER be changed or altered, lest you end up breaking many of your installed apps. In particular, all sorts of system-level programs such as Anti-Virus and Disk Utilities place parts of themselves there, and any changes to their permissions will prevent them from loading at boot time. Even more dangerous, some programs place symbolic links from that directory to "/System/Library", and running a chmod command that recursively drills down that directory could end up completely trashing your entire system...
Art is apoplectic, but those who've followed Palm's swan dive into misery [1] know that that their "doers and visionaries" abandoned ship long ago. They're running on fumes now.

Things are no better on the XP platform. It's been about 5 years since Microsoft implemented a user-specific security model, and Palm still expects all conduits to be shared and all user accounts to be in a single directory.

Palm is a dead company. Shame.

[1] Matched only by Intuit, which lately claims it will fix US healthcare. Perhaps they follow the philosophy of bringing on the apocalypse to accelerate change.

Monday, September 05, 2005

OS X Open With list a bit crazed -- restart with shift key down (safe start)

I'd had a lockup (old Classic game) in OS X. Next time I accessed the 'open with' dialog I got a long list of options, with multiple versions of older applications appearing (ghost apps).

Safe start fixed it, one of the most basic troubleshooting tips: Gordon's Tech: Mac OS X Update troubleshooting. I held down shift and restarted. Takes a long time (it's the easiest way to run fsck in Tiger). Then restarted again. Problem fixed, drop down list repaired.

Saturday, September 03, 2005