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I haven’t done this in a while:


  1. Tweetie, a Twitter client for Macs. I think there’s also an iOS version. The free version is supposedly ad-supported, but I haven’t paid and I’ve yet to see an ad.
  2. Visor still does the same stuff it did back in 2006 — hotkey-activated Terminal window that pops down from your menubar — but it’s got a new developer. Still free, too.
  3. F.lux is free software (for Mac, Windows, Linux) that shifts the color temperature of your monitor at night, to make it easier for you to get to sleep after a long evening spent staring into it.
  4. Quicksilver, which still does all the cool stuff it did back in that 2006 entry. I tried out the 30-day free trial of LaunchBar, and found it slightly more capable, but not enough so to justify spending money on it.
  5. DateLine displays a linear calendar on your screen (I’ve got it running across the bottom of mine), and has a menu for adding new events to iCal. It’s free, or you can spend less than $5 to register and get a few extra features.
  6. TextExpander is the commercial version of Textpander, the abbreviation-expanding program. I shelled out for it at some point in the last five years; maybe the old version wouldn’t work with Leopard?
  7. Notify is my current email notification program. Not only does it tell me if I’ve got unread mail in my gMail inbox, it also lets me read the mail, delete it, or mark it as read, all from the menu, saving me from having to load gMail into my browser more than half the time.
  8. WeatherDock shows me the weather in my menubar. Also in my Dock, which I hardly ever look at.
  9. Caffeine keeps my Mac from going to sleep. Click the icon and it fills with coffee, and the computer stays awake. Click it again, and it goes back to normal.
  10. Little Snitch checks for programs attempting to establish outgoing Internet connections, and lets me establish rules for allowing or disallowing them. I currently have it switched off.
  11. Standard MacOS X Bluetooth control.
  12. Standard MacOS X WiFi network strength indicator.
  13. Standard MacOS X battery/power indicator.
  14. Standard MacOS X keyboard and character menu.
  15. Standard MacOS X date & time display.
  16. Standard MacOS X Spotlight icon.
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Is anyone else out there having trouble with Typekit and Safari?

What was happening: I’d try to load a page that uses Typekit fonts, and I’d get an eternal rainbow beachball which froze up the whole program, until I eventually had to Force Quit Safari.

Temporary work-around: I added use.typekit.com to my /etc/hosts file, to block that whole subdomain on my laptop.

Solution: Turns out the problem was caused by SafariBlock, a Safari port of AdBlock! Since AdBlock has been made a Safari extension, I have no need for SafariBlock anymore, so I deactivated it (in Safari’s preferences panel), and then deleted it (the folder’s in /Library/InputManagers). I’ve removed that line from my /etc/hosts, and I get to see fancy Typekit fonts now. Yay!

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OK, found a way to keep links from opening new windows in Safari. Here it is:

Step 1: Install GreaseKit. (GreaseKit is the Safari port of Greasemonkey, a Firefox add-on that lets you run arbitrary JavaScript code to modify web pages as they download.)

Step 2: Install _blank Must Die, a userscript that strips the target="_blank" attributes out of link tags.

Step 3: Quit and relaunch Safari.

Step 4: Sigh with relief when Twitter links no longer spawn new windows.

Note for Firefox users: That userscript in Step 2 ought to work for you as well, but you don’t need to bother, since you’ve got some useful features baked right into your browser, no add-ons required.

Microsoft Internet Explorer users, I dunno. If you guys cared about your web experience, you wouldn’t be using MSIE.

Update: Just discovered that the GreaseKit _blank Must Die hack will mess up Google Calendar. The fix is to disable the hack for Google, like so:

  1. In Safari, from the GreaseKit menu, choose “Manage Scripts…”
  2. In the Manage Scripts dialog, select “_blank Must Die” from the list on the left of the box. (Don’t turn the check-box off, just click the name “_blank Must Die” to select it.)
  3. See the “Exclude” box? Click the “Add” button next to it.
  4. In that new line that was just created in the Exclude box, type:
  5. Close the Manage Scripts box. Maybe you need to quit and restart Safari, too.
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This was a pretty tech-heavy weekend.

On Saturday, I came back from a dim sum expedition to find that my copy of MacOS X 10.5.6 (Leopard) had arrived, and was helpfully hanging off my apartment doorknob. (I’d feared that I would just find a delivery slip telling me to go pick it up at the post office on Monday.) I backup my hard drive, installed the new OS, and it’s working fine. Seems to be a bit zippier than Tiger, which has me thinking I might be able to limp along with this machine for another few years if I get a bigger hard drive. My only complaint so far is that I can’t get Visor working, even after downloading the Leopard version. (Quicksilver, on the other hand, is working better than before.)

Today, in the evening, my Linksys wi-fi hotpoint/router suddenly stopped working. All the little indicator lights were off. I unplugged, then re-plugged, the power cable, which brought it back up, but it turned itself off again within a few minutes. Five or six repeats of this performance convinced me that it wasn’t going to get any better. Fortunately, Target was still open, so I bought a replacement device, Belkin this time. BTW, Belkin’s routers come with easy-to-use config software that actually runs on a Mac!

Update: Rebooting fixed whatever was jinxing Visor. And, for anyone out there who wants to change the font colors in Terminal (and Visor), use TerminalColors if you’re running Tiger, TerminalColours for Leopard.

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For people who were wondering about the relative weights of computers at Games-Club-in-Exile last night:

I think [livejournal.com profile] mnemex’s new laptop was a Lenovo ThinkPad X300, which starts at 2.7 pounds. If it’s the largest model, it’s got a 13.3” display (1440x900?), but I can’t tell how much that particular model weighs.

According to Wikipedia, the XO-1 weighs either 1.45 or 1.58 kilograms, depending on which battery option you choose. Call it around 3 pounds, so yeah, it might be a bit heavier than the Lenovo.

The ASUS Eee weighs about 2 pounds. If I were gonna get a lightweight, toting-about computer, this would probably be it.

The MacBook Air weighs 3 pounds and also has a 13.3” display (1280x800).

Update: Oh, right, and the thing I was trying to look up? Mike Rohde’s SXSW sketchnotes.

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With LiveJournal’s new owners announcing that LJ will no longer allow the creation of new Basic accounts, lots of people are upset over the prospect of having to look at ads. For those of you lagging behind the leading edge of web browser technology, here’s a solution:

Step 1: Firefox if a free open-source web browser available for Windows, MacOS X, and Linux. (If you use Linux, you already know all about it, so just skip right on to some other post.) Download and install it. It’s free. Costs no money. Since it’s open-source, it’s highly customizable with lots of themes and add-ons, which brings us to…

Step 2: AdBlock is a free add-on for Firefox that allows you to block ads from showing up when you browse the web.

Special for Mac users: If you don’t want to leave Safari, you can still block ads! SafariBlock is a Safari add-on based on AdBlock. Or try Ad Subtract, which uses CSS to hide ads.

Another reason to use browser extensions: Y’know how when a LiveJournal post gets a lot of comments, LJ starts hiding some of them, and you need to keep clicking to unfold the hidden comments? Doesn’t that annoy the crap out of you? Here’s what you do:

Now those long comment pages will get an “Unfold All” link at the top of the comments. Click that, and it all unfolds. (In my experience, this doesn’t work perfectly — a few comments stay folded — but it works pretty well.)

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Anyone out there using MacOS X and Safari should do the following immediately:

1. Bring up the Preferences dialog in Safari.

Menu screenshot

2. Click the “General” tab.

3. Look at the checkbox next to “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading”. If this checkbox is on, click it to turn it off.

Dialog screenshot

Then you may close the Preferences dialog and go about your business.

What’s all this about? Well, according to John Gruber, there’s a kernel bug exploit that makes it possible for someone to create a “.dmg” disk image file that, when mounted, causes a kernel panic (full system crash). If you leave that preference on, Safari will automatically attempt to mount “.dmg” files after downloading them, and its possible to set up a web site to initiate downloads automatically. Leaving that preference off means you have to actually double-click (or otherwise open) the file to screw up your computer — it’s a layer of safety.

Apple stupidly leaves this preference turned on by default, so if you aren’t in the habit of reading Mac techie sites, you’ve probably got it on. I don’t know if there have been any cases of someone actually distributing malicious panic-causing files using this exploit, but it could happen. There’s an anonymous security researcher who’s been publishing information about unpatched bugs; this has been the Month of Kernel Bugs.

And I just can’t discuss a Mac security bug without trash-talking about Windows security, so here’s Tom Yager arguing that Windows really is inherently more vulnerable than MacOS X to malware attacks, and he’s pretty specific about the technical reasons. Maybe some of that will be fixed in Windows Vista, maybe not.
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Mac users (and anyone interested in graphics) might want to check out this post, and its comments, on Khoi Vihn’s Subtraction blog.

He starts with the news that former Adobe employee Andrei Herasimchuk has published an open letter to Adobe co-founder John Warnock, calling for Adobe to open-source a handful of important core fonts to allow them to become ubiquitous, improving the overall design of the web.

That’s interesting outside of the Mac community, but Vinh goes on to gripe about the quality of Adobe’s Creative Suite software in recent versions, and offers up a new vector drawing program, Lineform, that does about 90% of what Adobe Illustrator does, is small, fast, and elegantly designed, and only costs $80.

Down in the comments, someone brings up Pixel, a similar cheap competitor to Photoshop. And someone else brings up freeware Seashore (a Cocoa port of the GIMP), and there’s some mention of Linux and Windows software in there too, but as a Mac user, I want something with an intelligently-designed interface that uses native widgets and supports the various conveniences I’ve gotten used to in Cocoa apps.

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You can skip this if you’re not a Mac user. )
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It’s been a low-accomplishment weekend, just taken care of a couple of chores. One of them is important, if undramatic: I bought a new external hard drive, for backing up my laptop drive. My old backup drive was five years old, and not even capacious enough for half of my new computer’s backup needs. So I picked up a LaCie 300gb d2 drive, which supports FireWire 800 (as well as 400 and USB). I also spent $28 on a copy of SuperDuper, thanks to this comprehensive review of Mac backup software which rated SuperDuper as the only software that fully backed up all OSX file attributes, including metadata like file creation dates, BSD flags, Finder comments (which I use for Spotlight tagging), and so on. I am now fully backed up as of last night.

Hudson County Art Supply is moving (just a few blocks, over to First and Coles), and has discounts on all merchandise! I poked around for a bit last week, and bought a pack of small canvas boards and a Winsor Newton leather artist’s journal. (Normally $15, on sale for $11, but you can get them for $7.50 through that link.) These make nice little sketchbooks — slightly larger than a pocket Moleskine, with 70-lb paper that you can use both sides of without bleed-through. I discovered that it’s a bit too slick for watercolors (or my common substitute, Caran D’ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayons and a Niji water brush), but they’re wonderful for Faber-Castell Pitt markers.

The binding will allow the book to lie open flat for scanning, is stiff enough that you’ll have to work at it a bit. And there’s a pocket in the back of the book, but it opens at the page-edge end, instead of towards the binding like the Moleskine rear pocket does. The book has a flap that wraps around the open edge, and fastens with an annoying pair of buttons and string tie. I solved this by snipping the buttons off and installing Velcro.

As you can see here, the “watercolor” goes on streaky:
first page

But Pitt markers turn out great:
second page
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A scanner, darklyOK, just about everything is ready to go. Clié hooked up (required upgrading to the latest version of The Missing Sync, but that works great, totally replaces the old Palm Desktop), iPod working, camera working, various Perl modules installed, Apache and PHP working, remind and GeekTool working despite the warnings, everything tested and working but the printer.

Getting the scanner working today ate about an hour and a half, largely because of poor font choice by whoever designed the lid of the scanner. I downloaded the drivers for the CanoScan LIDE 50, when what I have is the LIDE 30. So, if I’d been doing any drawing lately, I’d be able to scan the art in tonight.

I’ve been going through old posts, adding tags. The sketch tag will get you all the drawing posts I’ve tagged so far. I noticed that I hadn’t posted any art since June. Yipe.


Nov. 1st, 2005 09:11 pm
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Yay, new computer! I’d decided on a 15" Aluminum PowerBook, 2 gigs of RAM, 100 gig 7200 RPM hard drive, and I’ll get a bigger monitor later. Went to the Apple Store in Soho on Sunday to see if they could build one for me, and they said they could do the RAM, but they’d have to order the hard drive from Apple. So I bought a new graphics tablet instead (Wacom Intuos, 4x5).

Yesterday I stopped at Tekserve and asked, expecting to be told that the new machines weren’t in yet, but they were! And they had one 7200 RPM hard drive in stock! And they could put the machine together for me right then!

I took the new laptop home that night, though I should have had them overnight it and taken a personal day off work, saved myself the sales tax. But I didn’t, thus shaming the spirits of my ancestors.

The big annoyance has been transferring stuff from my old laptop. What you’re supposed to be able to do with any Firewire-equipped Mac is boot with the T key held down and a Firewire cable plugged in between it and another machine and it’ll mount on the other computer as a Firewire volume. This didn’t work with my old TiBook. The volume mounted, but any attempt to open the volume up and read off it, either through Finder or command-lining in the Terminal, would hang the attempting app.

I copied a whole wad of stuff off the TiBook onto my iPod, and then copied it down onto the AlBook. This was a bit giddy of me, but it worked. Then I remembered my backup external Firewire drive, and now I’m backing up the TiBook to it.

Meanwhile I’m downloading what I think is the latest version of the MacOS X Developer Tools, to give myself make and all those other useful things. Still to come: reinstalling Fink, deciding whether to rebuild Perl from source (do I really need a more recent Perl than 5.8.6?), installing that CPAN module, getting my PHP environment set up again, reinstalling the drivers for my scanner and printer, the Palm Desktop....

On the upside, I opened up Photoshop CS and set up a 9x6 inch, 300 dpi document and tried out some big fancy brushes with the new tablet. Nice and smooth.

Update: Looks like I can skip installing CPAN; perl -e 'use CPAN;' didn’t throw an error.
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Learned today that the Apple Store in Soho is open till 8 PM weeknights. I went down to check out machines in person, and it turned out one of the sample machines was the configuration I’m thinking of using: 12" PowerBook hooked up to a 20" external monitor. I confirmed that the setup I’m planning would, in fact, work; that you can get the laptop to ignore its built-in screen and just use the external monitor at full resolution.

I also found a different 12" PowerBook with the full 1.25 gigs of RAM and Photoshop CS2 installed, and fiddled around with a big ol’ document (9x6 inches at 300 dpi) to see how it performed. Pretty well. I should go back and try the same thing with a web browser and some more apps going in the background, since that’s what I’ve usually got going on. And I should check how much heat it kicks out.

I think I’ll also get a 4x5 Intuos graphics tablet, instead of just buying a new Graphire like I’d been planning. The TouchStrip looks like it’ll be handy for varying brush size; that’s one of the things I get annoyed at having to break workflow to do in Photoshop.

Oh, and a hard drive. I’ll need a new, larger external hard drive for backups. Damn, this is adding up to real money.
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MelorneMore sketches over on [livejournal.com profile] sketchblogs.

This has been a heck of a news-filled day. There was the announcement that Apple is switching over to Intel x486 processors, which screws over my plans to buy a new computer this summer. Two notes that you might not have heard: Classic (OS9 and earlier) Mac apps will not be supported in the emulation layer of the new system, and Apple is not going to be keeping Windows from running on Intel Macs.

The Washington governor’s race looks finally settled, with Republican Rossi having not only had his claims of vote fraud dismissed for lack of evidence, but Gregoire’s margin of victory increased by four votes.

And a decision’s been handed down in Gonzales v Raich, the medical marijuana case. By a 6-to-3 margin, the Supreme Court upheld the notion that crops grown within a state, for use within that same state, fall under the purview of the infinitely elastic interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution. The precedent in this case is Wickard v Filburn (1942), in which a farmer growing wheat for his own family’s consumption was found in violation of federal wheat quotas because the mere existence of his wheat affected market prices in the national market. The state laws are not overturned, but users of medical marijuana still risk persecution by federal authorities. There are a couple of bills pending in Congress to help fix matters; Radley Balko has the details.


Sep. 18th, 2004 10:53 pm
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AntiRSI icon in my DockThat’s pretty cool. The other day I installed an app called AntiRSI (free, and the page is pretty), that monitors my mouse and keyboard usage and tosses up an alert every so often to get me to take breaks for the sake of my wrists. What I didn’t notice till now was that it shows a countdown in its icon, displayed in the OSX Dock. I think the outer blue ring is the countdown to a long break, the inner ring a countdown to a “micro pause” (ten seconds or so), and the green section displays time that I haven’t touched the mouse or keys.
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New (to me) website: 43 Folders
Merlin Mann dispenses organizational tricks, software pointers, and other tips on saving time and getting your life in order.

Those of you who want to get organized but lack the money or silicon thumb for a Palm might want to see his entry on the Hipster PDA: a bunch of index cards and a binder clip. Not a bad idea. Before my first Palm, I spent some time getting organized with a cheap pad of paper I carried in my back pocket. Wins out on cost and durability, but loses on indexing, search, and notification capabilities, even discounting spiffy Palm apps like Vindigo (which I use a lot). Furthermore, if you’re a disorganized person, you’re apt to just lose track of that bundle of cards. A pricey Palm at least takes advantage of the $100-lighter memory hack. And then even if you do lose or break it, you’ve got it backed up in your main computer.

The rest of this is only useful for MacOS X users. )
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Some MacOS X software I downloaded today:

[ Mellel icon ]Mellel, a word processor. Cheap (only $30), and looks pretty feature-rich. Also small and quick. I was initially interested because one of the screenshots made it look like it had an outline mode, but now that I’ve downloaded the thing I can’t figure out how to get that outline thing happening. So I probably won’t actually be buying it. But man, check out that icon!

TinkerTool, latest version. Not that I really need it, since I’ve still got all my prefs from the time I ran it on Jaguar.

DragThing. Not sure if I’m actually gonna use it, but I figured I might as well see, since I can upgrade cheap as a registered user of an earlier version.

The modern way of bipping about one’s filesystem seems to involve using adaptive utilities that learn your favored abbreviations, like LaunchBar or the very cool though under-documented freeware Quicksilver.
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Lesson 1: Swapping internal hard drives on a TiBook is a painstaking process. The worst part is not the eight screws that have to be removed in order. No, the worst part is that flimsy plastic hinge that’s the drive’s data connection to the motherboard. You really are supposed to pull that thing off one drive and stick it on the next without breaking it. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s nerve-wracking.

Lesson 2: When installing MacOS X 10.3 (Panther) on a blank drive, there really is a field that asks you to enter a “short name” (Unix user name). Don’t miss this if you don’t want to get stuck with the default (your first and last names run together) because you’ll be porting over a bunch of stuff from the backup of your old drive, which you’d set up with a different username.

Lesson 3: If you wind up learning Lesson 2 the hard way, just give up and do a fresh reinstall right away. Don’t bother trying to change your username with NetInfo Manager. It really is possible to get OSX into a state where there is no recognized administrative user, nobody with the authority to run su, and no user with the authority to give any user that authority. This is bad. Fortunately you’ll have a fresh backup to restore from. Right?

The good news: Panther is noticeably faster than Jaguar. Even (from what I’ve read) on the same hardware; faster still with a faster hard drive. I’m a happy computer user. Mail.app is actually usable now. At the moment, my only complaint is that Fruit Menu isn’t behaving.
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Holy cats! Tonight’s weather is the opening of Akira!

[ booom! ]


Jun. 12th, 2004 10:53 pm
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Is anyone else having AIM trouble? For the past few weeks (months, maybe) I’ve been having trouble connecting to the server (toc.oscar.aol.com:9898).

I’m still using Adium 1.6.2. I downloaded a beta of AdiumX (ver 0.56) a while ago, but it required me to jump through too many stupid bullshit hoops to import my buddies list. I’ll try 0.59 and see if it’s improved.

Update: Yeah, OK, that seems to have fixed it. And it still requires the bullshit hoops, but I discovered that I had on my hard drive the main hoop that I thought I’d have to go find and download, so hey.

April 2017



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