Apples are Delicious

Status Update … what the hell is Adam doing?

I have been really busy lately; I like keeping busy, but the last month or so has been hectic and stressful, and there’s a lot of stuff going on but it doesn’t feel like anything is getting finished — even though I have two brand new books [Shadowrun’s Arsenal and Classic BattleTech’s Technical Readout: 3039], released in March, sitting on the floor by my desk.

In good news, I have a new [to us] designer working on some projects now, and he’s churning out great stuff already.

I’m looking forward to the GAMA Trade Show, in April, when we’ll be announcing some new games, including the one that Rob Boyle has been developing for the last couple of years, and a card game that I designed. I’ll be taking some time to hang out with a bunch of the Catalyst Game Labs’ gang in Seattle after GTS, and maybe I’ll even see some sights.

This week I ordered a Time Capsule, and I’m expecting it early next. Just the 500GB model, but I needed a new router badly, and I found that I didn’t really use Time Machine as often as I should, as I don’t like having my laptop tethered to an external drive.

Safe Sleep Snuffed

I’ve written before about my problems getting Safe Sleep / Deep Sleep to work on my MacBook Pro. More frustrating was I couldn’t seem to disable it fully: I could disable it temporarily, but as soon as my laptop used a different Energy Saver preference [which happened automatically when it was unplugged from the power supply], it would immediately re-enable Safe Sleep.

Turns out that this 10.4 tip on Mac OS X Hints works just fine on 10.5 as well. The secret, for me, seemed to be the second line, which doesn’t show up in all the explanations of how to disable it:

$ sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0
$ sudo nvram “use-nvramrc?”=false

It’s been a couple of weeks since I configured things this way, and it hasn’t reset itself, so it’s working out nicely.

Getting more info an Apple’s Serial Number

I just found this cool site that can take the serial number of your Apple hardware [computer, iPod, etc] and tell you more about the item — the Apple stock number, which factory it was assembled in, the week it was made, and other little factoids.

Handy in a pinch: I was trying to diagnose why a friend’s MacBook wouldn’t boot when she put 4GB of RAM in it … turns out that her model only supported up to 2GB, and she had mistakenly thought it could take 4GB.

Remember that you can find the serial number by clicking a couple times on the version number text underneath “Mac OS X” in the About This Mac dialog, or simply in the Hardware Overview pane of the System Profiler app.

Perian 1.1 Available

The latest non-beta version of Perian [“The swiss-army knife of QuickTime components”]is now available. This easy-to-install preference pane gives Apple Quicktime the ability to play many non-Apple encoded videos: DivX, 3ivx, Flash video, etc. And since QuickTime can play them, that means that apps powered by Quicktime — such as Front Row — can now play all of those formats.

There are other ways to get QuickTime playing those formats, but Perian is easy to install, easy to uninstall, and is under active development.

Improving Apple’s Time Capsule, plus some Sparkle Stuff

It’s kind of rude to speak about improving something before it’s even available, but I’m shopping for a new router now, so Apple’s Time Capsule caught my eye yesterday. I’ve been using Time Machine on my Leopard-powered laptop, but I find that I don’t remember to plug in the USB drive often enough for it to be rock-solid backup — so the idea of a wireless backup while I sleep sounds good. [Maybe I should just move my backup drive into my bedroom … hmmm!]

Synced Apple Software Update
Here’s the killer feature I want: Apple Software Update should use your Time Capsule as a proxy and storage device; all patches you download should be saved on your Time Capsule [for a period of time you specify] and other computers on your network should pull the updates off your Time Capsule instead of from the internet [after checking for newer versions, of course.] This will speed up installs and reinstalls in general [reinstall OSX from CD, hit Software Update, pull all the previously-downloaded updates down from your Time Capsule.]

I’ve wanted this sort of feature ever since I had two Macs on my desk at the same time, but didn’t think it would be easily possible within small networks without a lot of hackery — this seems like the perfect opportunity for Apple to make what seems like a good product even better. Further, this could be used for sysadmins to restrict access to updates until they’ve verified that they don’t cause issues with specific computers or third party software.

Backup to Time Capsule, Reinstall, Migrate
When I told Eleanor about this idea, she immediately thought of a further version: modify the OSX installer to detect Time Capsules, and offer an opportunity to backup/install/migrate in one fell swoop. Configure the options as you want, then walk away for a few hours and come back to your reinstalled OS with all your settings. Maybe it could even look at the Synced Apple Software Updates on your Time Capsule and install them too, if you want…

Sparkle Stuff
Sparkle is an application updating mechanism that is embedded inside many OSX apps — Adium, Cyberduck, and SubEthaEdit, for example. Wouldn’t it be great if the same Synced Update functionality worked for these apps, too? And if there was some global updating application you could fire up that would detect all your Sparkle-using apps and check them for updates all at once, then leave those updates on your Time Capsule so you could quickly grab them on your other computers afterwards? I’d love it.

NetNewsWire [and more] now free!

NetNewsWire is a great RSS client for OSX. It was acquired by NewsGator in late 2005, and since then has continued to improve and be awesome-r.

And now, it’s free, along with NewsGator’s other consumer products, including a RSS client for Windows, an RSS Outlook plugin, and a RSS client for some PDA platforms. NetNewsWire creator Brent Simmons is very pleased with this new direction.

I’ve been a happy paying user of NNW since early 2005, and it’s very cool that more people will be exposed to it from now on.

Goodbye, Leopard

I tried installing Leopard a few weeks ago on my main production machine. The machine needed a reinstall anyway, to clear up over a year’s worth of cruft, so I figured I may as well upgrade to Leopard at the same time. The first week or more was fine, and then InDesign CS2 spontaneously developed a problem — it would crash whenever the “file open/file save/etc” dialog would open. I switched over to using the “Adobe Dialog” for awhile, but that didn’t consistently fix the problem. I did the usual InDesign fixing steps: deleting preferences, making sure the drives didn’t have errors, etc. Deleting prefs would temporarily fix things, but a few hours later the problem would reoccur.

So last night I backed the drive up, reinstalled Leopard, and reinstalled just CS2 and a few other minor essential apps. It worked fine, again, for a few hours … and then it developed the exact same problem.

Leopard has been [mostly] fine and fun on my laptop, but I don’t have time to dicker around with my main production machine. It’s just not ready for my prime time: whether that’s the fault of Apple or Adobe, I don’t care. I’m reinstalling Tiger now.

“Deep Sleep” on MacBook Pros with Leopard

Some months ago I posted about deep/safe sleep does not work on my MacBook Pro under 10.4.10. I finally got around to testing it on Leopard today, and surprise surprise, it “works” in an even lesser way than before; there’s no sign at all that it’s restoring from the saved image, and the only part of the computer that works is the power button.

This doesn’t actually bother me all that much, because I very rarely get into a situation where I run my battery all the way down, but I’m sure it bothers some people.

What really bothers me is my DVD-R stubbornly refusing to burn any dual layer DVDs, but it seems like only about 2.3 billion people have this problem, so Apple can’t be damned to fix it.

Photobooth should make a custom Preview icon

I didn’t really notice until I upgraded to a new larger monitor a few months ago that the icon for Apple’s Preview application is of a young child holding up a fish. Cue instant revulsion — I don’t like children randomly showing up in iconography that does not directly relate to children. So I jumped into Photoshop and got rid of the young child, replacing him with a delicious redhead. Much better!

However, it would be much cooler if, the first time one launched Preview, it also fired up Photobooth and took a couple snapshots [or let you feed it previously-existing snapshots] and integrated them into the Preview icon, properly blending/blurring them under the thumbtack, and then instantly installing that icon for you.