On UI sins

My sister likes to back up DVDs that her children use all of the time: they are old enough to change discs, but they tend to get scratched. So, I have been looking into backup solutions for her to use on her new MacBook.

I came across Aimersoft DVD Backup, and ran it. Not looking too bad to begin with.

The actual window, however, is appalling:

Aimersoft DVD Backup(Unregistered)

It is a little hard to see, but the window is not actually connected to the titlebar. You can actually see the objects that are in obscured windows in the gap between them!

Finally, the text from the close confirmation sheet just cracked me up:

Surely, they can tell if a copying task is in progress, and display a dialog then. If not, then just quit immediately!

Why Linux?

I’d hardly call myself inexperienced in the ways of computers (I’ve installed several flavours of operating systems on several architectures of computers, from AmigaOS and Mac OS on 68k; through BeOS, Mac OS and OS X on PPC; a sideways movement to various Linuxes on ARM; to BeOS, Windows, OS X and more recently Fedora on x86). So how come I’m having so many issues getting what I want out of a Linux box? Perhaps, to put things in perspective, I’ll discuss exactly what it is that I want. I have a Dell mini tower machine, with nearly a terabyte of hard disk drives, 1.5Gb of memory and some other various hardware that I want to set up as a fileserver, fax and print server and scanner server for my local network, and possibly an outside accessible web server. I also want to run a virtualisation of WindowsXP, accessible via a remote desktop setup, so that Jaq can run her CAD software (Windows only) from her PPC iMac. This should have been easy. It started with hassles even getting the 3.2Gb Fedora DVD image. I would up having to get it at work, as my wget client decided to do strange shit with sizes, and kept saying there were a negative number of bytes remaining. Granted, this is not the fault of Fedora, but it set the tone. Next up was my installation woes. Now, I’ve installed a text-only Linux onto my NSLU2, and administered it for ages. I’ve read several books in the past about X-windowing (and even had a working Xwindows setup on BeOS/PPC, which was not a bad triumph). But I wasn’t ready for the almost never-ending hassle I had to get my Dell machine to actually boot into Fedora. But finally it did. I’d downloaded vmware and Parallels, since I still haven’t chosen between them in the Desktop realm, so most definitely haven’t decided on this untested platform. And neither of them would work. Apparently I don’t have a kernel they like, and I can’t build the vmmon for my kernel, since I get all sorts of weird errors when I try to compile or link. Now, let me suffix that by saying when I was deeply into hacking BeOS/PPC, they had already moved to Intel CPUs, and most software I had to build from source, and generally fiddle with stacks to get it to compile and link. So, I’m not totally clueless there either. So I spent a while trying to get the in-built virtualisation system to work. It starts installing, but for some reason I get bizarre errors on the installation of Windows - that it can’t find a file, and I can’t get it to access the CD drive again. It’s fairly crap, in other words. Especially after playing with vmware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac. Both of which install Windows XP without a hitch. Giving up on trying to survive on this Fedora, I’m currently downloading an older version of Linux - Ubuntu 6.0.6 this time. This is supported under VMWare, but not under Parallels. The only versions of Linux that are supported by both virtualisation systems are RedHat and SuSe, which don’t seem to be freely downloadable. Or maybe I just didn’t look hard enough. But this is not the end of my story. Tracking back a couple of steps, I have been fiddling lots with Fedora. It seems okay, but it is really hard to do the things I want to do. For instance, it would be nice to VNC into the box and do stuff, but I can’t seem to make Chicken of the VNC connect. Nor the little java VncViewer I found provided superior performance. I’d also like to be able to use other types of file sharing setup - perhaps AFP or NFS rather than just SMB. I can get an SMB connection to Fedora, but nothing else. NFS appears to just keep trying, and eventually time out. AFP connections are just rejected. And the frustrating thing is there is no easily discoverable way to turn this stuff on. I’ve even fiddled with files I know are used for this type of thing (that’s how I got Samba going, before I discovered the place to do this). Even SWAT, which the system told me I have installed, doesn’t seem to respond on port 901, where it lives. I know that Linux is different to OS X, and to Windows, but right now I’m not liking it a whole lot. I’d be fairly tempted to just reinstall Windows, but the two 250G hard drives that are in there are already formatted ext3fs, and mostly full of data, since they were in use, in addition to a 160GB drive that still stores my music, connected to the NSLU2. Which, I might add, was much easier to administer than Fedora. I know I’m trying to do more on Fedora, but I’m currently achieving less. Perhaps I just need to sleep.

wget and large files

Apparently, wget is only able to recognise files smaller than 2G as proper sizes. You can download files larger than this, but unusual sizes are displayed: negative file sizes displayed by wget This was funny when I first started this download, as it reported a negative number of bytes to go, but after crossing the 2G threshold in downloads, it now reports a true value of the file size remaining.

Shoulder HolsterMorcheebaBig Calm ★★

Boom Swagger Boom

Boom Swagger Boom:
Firefox Mac OS X Native Form Controls Preview
Now, there’s really only one reason I use Firefox, other than the fact I can then use the same browser on Windows. Okay, I guess there are two then… I’ll try again: There’s one big reason I use Firefox on Mac over Safari or Camino. Simply, I’m not that big of a fan of the Aqua controls. Sure, they are okay as part of an application, but, when building web sites, and viewing them, it’s kind of nice to be able to change the appearance of buttons and other form controls. Admittedly, Safari using the new WebKit builds works, as seen here: Firefox: screenshot Safari: screenshot Camino: screenshot WebKit: screenshot Minefield: screenshot Now, as can also be seen, Minefield, the Firefox linked to above, also supports restyling buttons. So, this looks okay from my point of view. It defaults to the Aqua buttons, but if savvy web designers re-style controls, they are displayed as such. So, that leaves my big complaint about Firefox. It doesn’t access any of the cool OS X features, like Keychain, and better integration with the system. Camino and Safari both will share saved passwords and the like, as they are all stored in this Keychain. Meaning it is easier to test stuff in multiple browsers, I don’t have to keep remembering site passwords and the like. Apparently this is coming in a future version of Firefox.

ObsessionSugababesTaller In More Ways [Mutya Version]

Enable Concurrent Sessions on XP

  1. Open Registry Editor (Start, Run, regedit).
  2. Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control \TerminalServer\Licensing Core.
  3. Create a new REG_DWORD value named EnableConcurrentSessions.
  4. Set the value to 1.
  5. Exit the editor.

(via joe boy)

RDC and AutoDesk software

I’ve come across an interesting issue. I have a PC, which I plan to put away in a closet, and run it as a server. Since one machine I use is a PowerPC iMac, I’d like to run some AutoDesk software on the server, and access it via RDP/RDC. I have managed to get connections, but there’s something weird about Architectural Desktop. I can start the app fine if I’m sitting at the machine itself, but if I try to run it over an RDC, it complains about not being licensed. This is very frustrating.

1Password Licenses

I have a couple of licenses for 1Password to give away. Leave a comment with your name and email if you are interested.

Mac only!

Update: all have been given away. Got quite a few responses in Whirlpool, before my thread was shut down.

Mercurial with OS X GUI tools.

Before anyone gets excited, this isn’t about the long-awaited Finder plugin that will do for hg repositories what SCPlugin does for svn repositories: adding badges to the icons and allowing operations from within the Finder.

No, this is about using two great tools, SubEthaEdit and Changes with mercurial.

Firstly, let’s look at how we can use SubEthaEdit to be the editor for commit messages.

SubEthaEdit has a command line tool, which has some useful arguments. Use man see to see them.

The first of the ones I use is -w, which waits until the file has been closed before continuing the execution of the calling program. This is a required argument, as without it your message won’t be committed properly.

The next I use is -r, which causes the application that called see to be brought to the front after closing the file. This is not completely necessary, but saves a mouse-click.

-o new-window means open the file you are planning to edit in a new window. Again, not completely necessary, and irrelevant if you don’t use tabs at all, but I find it helps me to see which file I am editing if it appears ‘new’.

-m allows you to choose a particular mode to edit the file in. I have created a handy little hgCommit mode, so this can be used. I like this idea, as it means that lines that will not be committed are easily distinguished. And you can use a different background colour, so that it’s really clear what you are doing.

Finally, -j allows a custom title addition. Again, this is just a nicety, but I use it nonetheless.

The file ~/.hgrc allows you to have settings for an editor - I find that SubEthaEdit doesn’t quite work right with crontab, so I leave the EDITOR environment variable to nano. In the [ui] section of the .hgrc file, I have a line that looks like:

editor = see -w -r -o new-window -m hgCommit -j 'Mercurial Commit Message'

My hgCommit mode can also be downloaded, if you wish: hgCommit.mode.zip.

The next hint is using Changes. You’ll probably know this, if you have read the Changes WIki, but you can use the extdiff extension of Mercurial. The bit I missed is that you can also use Changes to merge by default. I wish you could do the same for diff.

To make Changes the default merge tool, create a script at /usr/local/bin/chmerge, or somewhere similar.

All that needs to go in this file is:

1    #!/bin/sh
2    chdiff ---wait $3 $1

And ensure it is executable. Mine is also owned by root, I think.

Then, in your .hgrc, add in the following line after your editor line:

merge = /usr/local/bin/chmerge

My final hint is how to get around errors when you have a remote filesystem mounted under sshfs, and you get an untrusted user or group error when trying to perform a mercurial operation. In my case, the files in question were owned by user 1001/group 1001. I added the following to my .hgrc:

1    [trusted]
2    users = 1001
3    groups = 1001