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Current Topic: Macintosh

Mac OS X 10.3 — the definitive Panther review
Topic: Macintosh 6:14 pm EST, Nov 13, 2003

It's strange to have gone from years of uncertainty and vaporware to a steady annual supply of major new operating system releases from Apple. But some important questions quickly follow. Do I really want to pay $129 every year for the next version of Mac OS X? Worse, do I really want to deal with the inevitable upgrade hassles and 10.x.0 release bugs every single year? Just as the 10.2.x code base was finally settling down (the botched 10.2.8 release notwithstanding), the Mac community is asked to start all over again with 10.3.0.

I upgraded to Panther on my powerbook last weekend. I took the time to do a very through set of backups beforehand, which is always a good idea, but didn't appear to be necessary. It was a very smooth upgrade, and all my apps worked fine afterwards.

The new Finder is what people will like most, at first.. Expose however, is the real stand out feature in Panther. After installing Panther, I decided to give using Expose a shot as my primary (and only) method of managing all the windows on my desktop, and I stopped using virtual desktops. On average, I usually have about 15 - 20 windows open. Browser, IRC, IM, Mail, and at least 5 terminals connected to various machines.. (The number of terminals I have open gets out of control when I'm coding.. +20, on average.) In general, its been working out pretty good.. Better then virtual desktops in some ways, worse in others.

Using virtual desktops you can lay out your windows across more space, and navigate by sliding between them.. Expose on the other hand, just spreads out the windows cluttering your desktop allowing you to select and focus the one you need. When all the windows return to their normal size, the one you selected is on top, but the rest of the layers remain the way they were. You can have it display all apps, or just windows from the app you are currently using. You can also push all windows out of the way to get a clear view of the desktop for selecting files, opening finder, etc.

Expose is very simple and it seems to solve many of the window management and selection issues that I use virtual desktops for. Kudos to Apple on the feature.

That being said, you can still use virtual desktops with Panther. I just decided to plunge into Apple's new take on task switching head first.

Mac OS X 10.3 — the definitive Panther review

X-Chat Aqua
Topic: Macintosh 1:56 pm EDT, Oct 13, 2003

This is port of XChat, the best of the GUI IRC clients, using Mac OSX Aqua widgets. I've been using it for about a week now, and it appears stable and works great. I had been using XChat compiled via Fink. It worked well, but this is far superior. No more problems with cut & paste.

X-Chat Aqua

Ranchero Software: What's New in NetNewsWire 1.0.5
Topic: Macintosh 7:33 pm EDT, Oct  7, 2003

] Some NetNewsWire 1.0.4 users reported crashes and hangs
] with NetNewsWire - and some reported problems with
] Safari - that came from a bug in the system code that
] shares cookies between Safari and other applications that
] use the same URL downloading code.
] In NetNewsWire 1.0.5 we disabled cookie sharing, which
] fixes these crashes and performance bugs.
] Unfortunately, this means you can't read
] cookie-protected feeds (such as Manila Editor's Only
] sites). We do intend to bring this feature back as soon
] as possible, but the important thing was to fix the
] crashes and performance bugs.

I noticed that it was sharing cookies with Safari. I was all excited about it, because that means its possible to make an RSS feed for the Agent. At least they will have that feature at some point..

Ranchero Software: What's New in NetNewsWire 1.0.5

AppleInsider: Panther switches to bash as default shell
Topic: Macintosh 2:20 am EDT, Sep  5, 2003

] According to sources, as of 7B44, Apple has also changed
] the default unix shell type from 'tcsh' to 'bash.' While
] no further information was provided on the subject, it's
] assumed the move was made to conform to today's emerging
] linux standards. The bash shell is currently said to be
] the most commonly preferred shell amongst linux users.
] Panther users will still retain the ability to switch to
] other flavors of the unix shell, though one source joked
] that the move gives publishers an excuse to update their
] costly Mac OS X literature.

Nice! I use bash rather then tcsh myself..

AppleInsider: Panther switches to bash as default shell

MemeStreams Safari support complete!
Topic: Macintosh 5:38 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2003

Comments from Decius:

The MemeStreams bookmarklets now fully support Safari. You can select text in a window, hit the recommend bookmarklet, and that text will be quoted in your Meme!

In order for this to work you have to upgrade your bookmarklet. You'll find the latest bookmarklets by clicking on "help" in the navigation menu.

Now that I can actually use Safari with my website, I'm going to cut over to it for a while and see what I think. I hope the anti-aliasing doesn't give me headaches.

Now a short rant:

There is one correct way to implement text selections in JavaScript: document.getSelection. Thats how everyone does it. Thats the STANDARD. Everyone, that is, but Microsoft, who decided to implement a text selection object instead of a method. Very annoying. I have no idea why they did this; as far as I can tell there is no technical benefit. Then you've got Apple, who decided to make getSelection a method of windows instead of documents. So now there are three ways to do this.

I understand what Apple was thinking. By putting this under window you don't run into problems with frames.

Then again, I don't understand what Apple was thinking. Safari is not the only browser on the planet! I still have to support the other methods for other browers, I still have to do step through all the frames on a page, so you really haven't helped me at all. My code is more complex, not less complex. More importantly, almost nobody who uses this stuff knows how to make this work effectively. The result is that bloggers can't, and in general, don't use your browser.

In general, and in particular on the internet, being standards compliant is better then being more efficient. It doesn't matter how well your stuff works if no one can use it!

MemeStreams Safari support complete!

WireTap 1.0.0 for Macintosh OS X
Topic: Macintosh 5:36 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2003

] WireTap is a free product for that allows you to record
] any audio playing on your Mac, saving it to a file for
] later listening or processing.

Get this before they ban it...

WireTap 1.0.0 for Macintosh OS X

Fink - Unix software for your Mac
Topic: Macintosh 9:18 pm EDT, May 11, 2003

] The Fink project wants to bring the full world of Unix
] Open Source software to Darwin and Mac OS X. We modify
] Unix software so that it compiles and runs on Mac OS X
] ("port" it) and make it available for download as a
] coherent distribution. Fink uses Debian tools like dpkg
] and apt-get to provide powerful binary package
] management. You can choose whether you want to download
] precompiled binary packages or build everything from
] source.

Fink is great! Its basically drops a Debian based package management system down on Mac OSX. Everything lives in /sw, so it works side by side with anything Apple lays down on the system proper, and it also leaves you /usr/local for your own uses. It can install binaries or compile from source. I have had _zero_ problems with fink. Thus far, everything I have installed or compiled, has installed without a fight and run perfectly.

OSX suffers slightly from what I call "The Solaris Syndrome" (even though I know fully well its not aptly named). In short the elemental *nix commands that ship with it are grossly inferior to their GNU counterparts.. A little fink'ing will get you the good versions of fileutils, findutils, diffutils, patch, egrep, sed, gawk, etc, etc.. Fink is also not missing the other "critical" *nix progies like bash, vim, gnupg, rsync, wget, etc. Security tools are not left out either, you will find nmap, nessus, ethereal, tcpdump, etc. Both Gnome2 and KDE are fully represented.

Use the "unstable" branch, otherwize certain programs such as Evolution are not available for install. Standard Debian style..

There is a GUI frontend for Fink called FinkCommander, but its not really all that helpful. Its just a GUI wrapper for the command line tools.. And you don't get to see file transfer progress..

Fink - Unix software for your Mac

CodeTek Studios - VirtualDesktop for Mac OSX
Topic: Macintosh 10:54 pm EDT, May 10, 2003

] # Brings full virtual desktop support as available on
] other operating systems (Unix/Linux, Mac OS 9, Windows)
] to the Mac OS X platform.

] # Significant workflow improvements as you gain the
] ability to switch between multiple desktops and
] applications.

] # Considered by many users to be the most powerful
] implementation of virtual desktops on any platform, which
] is exactly what Mac OS X deserves.

] # Ideal for anyone who has more than one application open
] at a time!

Virtual Desktops are a must have.. It goes like this: Man crawled out of ocean, man coded window manager, man coded virtual desktops. If you don't have them, or rather, if you don't _need_ them, you either don't do alot with your machine or you really enjoy switching around and getting lost in an overly complicated/packed desktop.. Tabbed browsers are not enough.

This product costs $30 to register. Earlier versions "phoned home", but they removed that a few revisions ago. I've registered. The mouse focus handling stuff (thats also missing from OSX) that this product adds could still use some work. It needs to separate rasing the window from focus. I want focus to follow the mouse, but I want to raise windows by clicking.. You should be able to use the mouse to control elements of your desktop without having to click on anything. Although, I'm not too upset about the lack of advanced mouse focus handling.. I keep hitting my touchpad when typing, so I have a feeling it wouldn't work out like it normally does.. Works better with nipple mice, where you never have to take your hand off the keyboard. Without that, it may makes more sence to use hotkeys.. I promised myself I wasn't going to say anything else about the mouse, in particular its buttons, or lack there of.. Not going to say anything about it, or how much I love context menus. Not a damn thing. No sir..

Anyway, note to Apple. Mac OS has a damn sweet desktop out of the box. But it _really_ needs to ship with a virtual desktop utility. I expect Microsoft to miss details like this, but from what I've seen thus far, Apple is tuned into what makes a nice desktop in ways others are not. How could they miss this? I really think this should be built into the system.. I should not have to pay $30 for it..

I'm also pissed they did away with window shading..

Am I am the only one who _really_ likes these UI features? I completely understand why the *nixs ship with them turned off by default.. The desktop should be as simple and intutive as possible by default, and allow me to turn on additional super-powers as I feel necessary. Whats so hard about that? Do we really need to be chasing Microsoft in terms of UI? I mean, they suck, always have. Its a horrible desktop to navigate around in. The taskbar is the only thing I recall being a radical step forward for them, and it really has not evolved much since w95.. Its all been "next natural step" kinda innovation, all with very little regard for anyone other then the most low-level newbie user.. I can't find any reason why some of this stuff is not more common, other then the lack of it on MS, and everyone chasing MS. Stop chasing MS.. They are not leading in the right direction..

CodeTek Studios - VirtualDesktop for Mac OSX

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