Archive for ‘October, 2007’

Another day….another Leopard headache….

datePosted on 21:40, October 31st, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Okay as much as I like OSX and apple I have to admit, Leopard is not quite ready for consumption. Not unless you’re willing to do a “Erase Install”. After the weekend fun session of “Archive installing” 5 machines, I have found another bug/feature/headache. Here is how it happens:

  • You’ve got Tiger (10.4) setup with multiple network locations (work, home, wireless, etc.)
  • You do a archive install and get 10.5 installed on this machine
  • All your profile/homedirectory/apps get transfered over, including your network location configurations.
Well, not quite. It might seem like everything is transfered, until you start wondering about WINS Servers and Windows WORKGROUP/Domain settings. You see under Tiger these two were stored under directory utility, but under Leopard they’ve tried to pack everything under Advanced  Network settings (Preferences/Network/Advanced…). The problem is that if you’ve had your Network locations transfered from tiger, the advanced WINS panel will NOT let you enter/add new WINS servers or change the WORKGROUP field. You can try and change them, but as soon as you press OK  followed by Apply on the next screen, the fields reset to blank. 
Try it and you’ll see if you go back the field wil be blank. The only way to fix this is to create “New” Locations and re-set them up, then you can fill in the WINS and WORKGROUP entries and they’ll stick. Apple are you listening, not only are the Network panels a mess — just compare the 3 different widgets used under Network settings……must be some new Leopard crack they’re sniffing……consistency people — but the network configuration screens refuse to take into effect the changes you put in if you’ve done a “Upgrade” or “Archive” install. This only wasted three hours today, I’m sure someone in Cupertino is having a good laugh.

Turn-off Leopards 3D Dock

datePosted on 22:57, October 29th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Just noticed that if you place your dock on either side of the screen you get a flat dock, instead of that floating 3d look. As much as I like the 3D look, I liked the flat look even more, so after poking around I found out how to disable the 3D look. Open a Terminal window and type in the following two commands:
defaults write no-glass -boolean YES
killall Dock

To get the 3D floating dock back you open a Terminal and type the “opposite” two commands:
defaults write no-glass -boolean NO
killall Dock

Keep coming back…..there will be more soon :-)

Tablet Puppy….

datePosted on 22:23, October 27th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

For all the Nokia N800 fans out there……this is what happens if Nokia was sponsoring your High school :-). Seriously though, this is a fantastic example of what kids (and adults) can do using the opensource N800 platform for robotics control. Now who’s gonna stick one of these things on a gas powered RC car…..Dibs on the Remote :-)

OpenMoko and Neo1973 hands on…..

datePosted on 22:07, October 27th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Came across a pretty good write up on OpenMoko  project and Neo1973 opensource Cell phone over at wired. It sounds like the Hardware is pretty good (well aside from the promised bits that are still coming), the software though seems to have some problems. The author seems to think the partially open source Qtopia software is much nicer. We’d covered this device before and think that once it matures a bit more it could give others a run for their money.

OSX Leopard installation story

datePosted on 20:55, October 27th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Like many of you, I picked up Leopard Family pack last night. You see I have 4 mac’s and for $199 the family pack allows me to install leopard on up to 5 machines (in the same household). Anyways I did run into some troubles so I figured I’ll let you guys know about the gotchas:

– I “Upgraded” a 10.4.10 MBP 17″ and everything more or less worked, about the only thing I couldn’t get working was istat menu gadget. That Blue screen thing after the first reboot scared me to death, since your machine literally churns away for a good 5 minutes before the desktop loads. This only happens on the first boot after install. Some people have reported this screen followed by a what sounds like a lockup, but that did not happen to me. Strangely little snitch version 1.x worked fine after the upgrade (It’s not supposed to).
– I the proceeded to “Upgrade” a hoped-up Mac G4 Cube (Dual 1.5 Ghz w/ 1.5 GB of Ram and Nvidia Geforce 2 gfx) that was running 10.4.10 Server edition and low behold…..the installation worked fine but when I rebooted the boot device (startup disk) was not there anymore. I ended up having to do a “Erase/Fresh install” which is working but I lost some apps (no biggie, I have most of them on the MBP).
– Third came the G4 12″ PowerBook. I “Upgraded” it from 10.4.10 and everything went fine through the install, but when I rebooted all I got was the white screen with the apple logo and the spinner thing. The spinner kept spinning for at least 60-70 minutes and nothing (you could hear faint HD access one in a while). I rebooted a couple more times, tried single user mode, safe mode and verbose boot but nothing worked just the spinner. I did a re-“Upgrade” and the same results again. Then thought, why not try the “Archive System Install” option and low and behold everything worked. The system actually grabbed all my 10.4.10 Apps and installed them in the right place. My account was also transfered and everything came back just like before. The only problem on this machine (which I have to admit does not have much installed on it) was Little Snitch. I ended up having to upgrade to the 2.x beta family pack, downloaded the new installer and everything is happy again.
– At this point I got kinda bold and did a “Archive System Install” on my MacBook 2.0Ghz straight from 10.4.10 to 10.5 and I have to say wow….the archive option is a lot less hassle and moves (almost) all your apps and accounts/settings over. Adobe CS3 works fine and even Final Cut Studio is fully functional after the Archive install. Some things didn’t work here and required reinstalls, but no major breakdowns. The main ones were:
  • Logitech Control Centre for the MX Laser
  • Parallels 3.x
  • Some screen saver which had to be moved from the archived directory
  • Little Snitch which needs a upgrade to 2.x
  • Printers which disappear after the upgrade

– At last I got really adventurous and went back to my “Upgraded” 10.5 MBP and did a “Archive System Install” on it. Everything went okay, Apps and settings got transfered properly, but in addition to the 5 breakdowns above I had to reinstall the following:

  • Logitech Control Centre for MX510
  • Silicon Image 3132 ExpressCard Driver
  • SynergyKM 
  • iStat Menu (since it stopped working on the first “Upgrade” and the “Archive install” simply left it aside.
  • EyeTV software for EyeTV Hybrid (just an update)
Now everything is happy (I think). I’m doing my second time machine backup. The machine feels faster than before. I have left Spotlight running for now, to see if it’s tendency to go nuts once in a while has been fixed. Not everything has gone as planned, but for the most part I have to say that “Archive” install option is your friend. I would avoid the “Upgrade” option on PPC machines since I’ve had two bad (back-to-back) experiences. 

Okay so this all started with our users not being able to share files on our webserver. We use SSH only for upload/download and interactive access (ie: no ftp). Through trial and error we found out that the default umask (under OSX Server) for sftp uploaded files are 0033 (ie: rwxr–r–) and directories are 0022 (ie: rwxr-xr-x). This creates a problem when one user uploads a file and another user downloads/modifies and tries to re-upload it — they simply can’t because the group permissions are wrong.

If we were using ftp (which we are not) there are some solutions on the net that allow you to modify the startup parameters for the ftp server so that the default umask for all files is 0013 — which would allow a group of people to share/overwrite each others files — but we are using ssh only.

So we came up with two other solutions — a shared upload account and/or a cron job that would modify the group permissions on the website directory to allow group sharing. We went with the second solution and that’s where I ran into so many problems that I decided to create this post. You see normally Unix users know that spaces (and strange characters) in filenames are a no-no. Well that’s not true for Windows and Mac users, they use spaces and other odd characters in their filenames/folders all the time.

I started writing — what I thought was — a simple “for loop” script to go through the website folder and change the group permissions. Of course on the first try things didn’t work nicely because of spaces, so I started compensating for that and came up with:
for i in `find /Path/to/www -type d -print0 |xargs -0 -n 1`
This kinda worked, but the for loop would still split the lines when it hit spaces in filenames. I tried to mess around with it and gave up. After RTFMing a bit more I tried:
for i in `find /Path/to/www -type d -exec echo \"{}\" \;`
The thinking behind this was that the exec would echo the filenames quoted and it should work….well it didn’t, the for loop still split the input lines at spaces.

Finally after a latenight RTFM session (and lots of cursing), I think I’ve found the ultimate file handling loop statement:
find /Path/to/www -type d ! -perm -g=wx -print0 | while IFS= read -rd $'\0' filename
Okay so this version uses “while” rather than “for” but it works like a charm and chews through spaces and all other kinds of weird chars and creates a output stream that’s ready to be used by your choice of commands (chmod in my case).

After trimming and optimizing the script a bit, here is the final product:
# The following find will search for
# all files under /Path/to/www, that
# are NOT symlinks, and do NOT have
# group write permission. The list is
# "\0" seperated and the while portion
# will loop around this character and
# ignore everything else in the path.
find /Path/to/www ! -type l ! -perm -g=w -print0 | while IFS= read -rd $'\0' filename
# We've found a directory with no group
# write permission, so fix it.
if [ -d "$filename" ]then
chmod g+rwx "$filename"
# echo Directory changed
stat -l "$filename"
# We've found a file with no group
# write permission, so fix it.
if [ -f "$filename" ]then
chmod g+rw "$filename"
# echo File changed
stat -l "$filename"

Hopefully you’ll find this code (or portions of it) useful for your own day-to-day hack-and-slash solutions to annoying problems. Let me know if you come up with an even better solution :-)

News, News and more News

datePosted on 16:25, October 17th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Well today’s been full of good news for developers and users alike. Steve J. announced that the Ipod/Iphone SDK will be released in February 2008 and if that wasn’t enough Nokia announced their next generation Internet Tablet….the N810. It’s basically the N800 on steroids, a slider keyboard plus builtin GPS…..wohoo :-). From the Press Release….

The Nokia N810 is powered by maemo Linux based OS2008, updatable also on the Nokia N800, the previous internet tablet generation hardware. The Nokia N810 features a highly customizable user interface and contains various novelties such as a Mozilla based browser with Ajax and Adobe flash 9, Bluetooth headset support as well as enhanced video and audio features. The refreshed Video Gizmo, Skype and Rhapsody highlight some most popular downloads available while Boingo Wireless, Earthlink and The Cloud enable Wi-Fi connectivity, across thousands of different locations globally.

The Nokia N810 has an integrated GPS receiver which allows you to pinpoint your position and find a wide variety of points-of-interests using the pre-loaded maps. Upgrade to Wayfinder’s voice-guided navigation for turn-by-turn directions and explore the world on foot or in the car.

So get ready and start saving up. Ipod (or if Rogers gets it’s act together) and Iphone first, N810 with all the sweet tech inside plus the ISDK in Feb…..Next year will be a busy Dev. year :-)

Right Mouse and Delete Buttons under XP on Inter Mac’s

datePosted on 15:54, October 15th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

This one has been bugging me for so long that once I figured it out today I had to let other know as well. If you’ve been using Windows on your mac using bootcamp you’d know how frustrating it is not to have the right mouse button — you can remedy this with a mouse of course — and no DEL key. This makes deleting files/directories a pain in the ‘nads, let alone trying to right click with the single button on the pad.

I think I’ve found the solution. It’s a windows utility called AutoHotKey and it’s free. Grab it, reboot into WinXP (or whatever Windows) natively and continue on with the tutorial below:

1) Okay so assuming you’re in windows and have AutoHotKey downloaded, go ahead and install the application.
2) Once it’s finished, go to your menu and run the program. It will ask for your permission to create a default script under “My Documents”. Say Yes and let it do this.
3) Go to your “My Documents” folder and find the file AutoHotkey.ahk and edit it.
4) Comment out everything they have put in there using the semicolon “;” at the beginning of those lines.
5) Add the following three lines to the bottom of the script:
6) Save the file in “My Documents”, go to your icon tray (bottom right), right click and reload the script. Now you should have a proper DEL (small Enter Key) and a proper right mouse click button (the Apple Keys).

You can tweak the script and reload it if you like. The script in the My Documents directory is the default script that gets loaded (you can have others saved in different folders). So now you can add AutoHotKey to your startup folder so it’s started everytime you boot into windows.

FotoFlexer advances online photo editing….

datePosted on 19:08, October 9th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

I came across FotoFlexer a couple of months ago and I thought I would do a write-up at some point. Now with the addition of advanced morphing tools and image carving, I think I have to. If you haven’t heard of FotoFlexer go to their site and signup for an account. Trust me you’ll be sorry you didn’t. Their editing application is way up there in terms of advanced functionality and they integrate with pretty much any photo/social site (Facebook, myspace, photobucket, flickr, picassa, yahoo photo and even your own website). Below you’ll find some of the tools available to you when you login:

Have a look at their demo page first if you want to get an idea of the functionality. Below is a nice video tutorial on image carving, which we had covered earlier.

Google in 1807

datePosted on 12:01, October 9th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Well did you know google has been around for 200 years. If you don’t believe me have a look, they’ve got actual footage of it in motion :-).