Application focus under OSX

09/18/08 | by Adam | Categories: Whining, Macintosh

For the most part I've been very happy with OSX compared to its competition. This isn't a long standing Mac fanatic thing: I couldn't stand OS9 and the prior System releases; the Mac only became an acceptable option to me after the "classic" MacOS was retired with Darwin's arrival.

That is as it may be, but why does it like giving popups instant focus? There I am, happily typing away, and suddenly a requestor appears, grabs focus, nicks my input, goes off and does something, and I'm left wondering what the heck happened. The behaviour should be to bring the requestor to the front where it can be acknowledged but for the sake of the turtlenecked-sweater-clad-one, don't steal my frickin' focus.



Monolingual strikes again

09/17/08 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Regular readers of this blog will remember a run in a few months ago with a tool called Monolingual that carefully destroyed a fair number of software installs on my Mac. I thought I'd fixed all of the problems.

Not quite; I just found another case.

This time the damage was a bit more subtle. For the last couple of weeks I've been trying to install an update to Office:Mac 2008 which has been failing with an error about not being able to find a legitimate install. Office:Mac itself runs fine and has demonstrated no problems; I just couldn't patch it. Eventually a Google-suggested trip to the Wikipedia gave me the hint I needed:

On May 13, 2008, Microsoft released Office 2008 Service Pack 1 as a free update. However, there have been many reports of the updater failing to install, resulting in a message saying that an updatable version of Office 2008 was not found.[15]

That [15] linked to another article with this comment:

There is an application out on that will modify the resource bundles. Like the above issue, the application bundle has been changed and as such the patch installer no longer recognizes the application as one that has been installed by Microsoft.

Unfortunately after that, all further investigation came back to one solution: delete Office and reinstall. That option does indeed work but I do wish there was a less destructive one.

Anyway, I'm now promoting Monolingual from "potentially dangerous" to "shoot on sight".


Radio Adam foobared

09/16/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Macintosh

Yesterday I updated Radio Adam to use the newest iTunes since it had been working appropriately on my other systems. Part of the install requires a reboot of the system which I didn't think much of at the time.

When everything came back up, I restarted iTunes, let it do its validation process and ran the usual playlist. What I had forgotten was that it reads in the music from a remote SMB file system. OSX does not automount network drives by default when a device is requested (see MacOSHints for some suggestions on how to do this at boot time) so when iTunes went to read the first file, it didn't find it and therefore marked it unavailable with that lovely little exclamation mark in a circle. It then went to the second, had the same problem, and proceeded onto the third. Within moments it had invalidated about 13,000 tracks.

It's here that I found a major problem with iTunes. If you double click or bring up information on an invalid file which is actually there, iTunes will mark it valid again. Unfortunately it will only do this for the initial file so if you use the "next" or "previous" buttons from the information browser, it'll leave any other viewed items as unavailable. If you're playing to revalidate, once the first track finishes, iTunes won't try any others as they're all flagged unavailable. As far as I can therefore see, there is no way to force a bulk revalidation of music once its marked as being dead.

I then took the other brute force route and dropped the entire file system for the music back on iTunes and went to bed. When I checked in later, it had duplicated all the unavailable files rather than merging back the links back in. I now have a vast collection of duplicate entries that need to be cleared out plus I've lost all of the iTunes library-specific data as that's indexed to the "unavailable" version of the files.

I'm not best pleased.


Time Magazine's Worst Cars List

09/07/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, Potpourri


Time's list of lousy cars is remarkably even-handed: it doesn't go just for the most ugly or unreliable but also for those which started unfortunate trends.

(Via Wired)



09/06/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

The Register reviews Nokia's best business phone to date

09/02/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly


Fun little article from the UK's Register which reviews the best of the Nokia phones currently on the market.

I have one of them!


Rules for going to the cinema

09/01/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Worth its weight in gold

08/31/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


But is it? Density and market prices determine the answer!

(Via Boing Boing)


Profitability in the wireless telco world (Rogers Edition)

08/30/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


37% net profit. Not bad at all.

(Via Michael Geist)

(And look at the comments on Geist's site; there's one that can be summed up as "don't blame corporations for being greedy; it's their nature." Problem is that it's meant as exculpation, not castigation...)


Evolution, Alberta and Headdesk Denyse - Part II

08/30/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Religion, Science

The Calgary Herald gave Denyse O'Leary an "in rebuttal" column (entitled "Theory needs a paramedic, not more cheerleaders") to rebut Breakenridge's article.

From what I can gather, Denyse is ostensibly a journalistic defender of Intelligent Design.

Now, you could get the print copy from the Herald, but Denyse has also posted the article on her own blog and it includes the sources she used, which are revealing.

Full story »


The law of unintended consequences strikes again

08/29/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


The Register comments on the IT field in the UK suffering from a lack of people with appropriate skills. It lays the blame at the foot of offshoring all the entry level jobs. After all, if you don't train people, they'll never be in a position to take over the more senior jobs when inevitably those currently in them move on up or out of the workforce.

Yup. I can agree; I watched this happen on a more local level here in Calgary a few years ago and have little doubt the same has happened before. As usual, it's short-term gain pushing out longer-term survival.


Wired on urban gardening

08/28/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


Directly referencing the victory gardens of World War 2, Wired's Clive Thompson has an interesting article on the reviving popularity of growing food in an urban environment. Having come originally from the UK where this is not a terribly unusual thing to do -- and unless you're in an apartment it still isn't -- it makes for an interesting read. It's a nice follow up from yesterday's roof gardens post.

As a side note, none of my carrots or lettuce came up this year for which I blame the local populations of hares. The spinach is great, the potatoes rather bushy (but still underground) and the tomatoes are delicious, or I'm sure will be once they finally ripen. Next year the raspberries should start bearing fruit. Yum! I wouldn't want try to live off what I grow though; this is strictly supplemental to the weekly grocery run...


Roof lawns

08/27/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


I've always liked the idea of a lawn or garden on top of a house, partially as insulator, but also as an interesting visual. I'd hate to try to maintain it and it wouldn't be much fun to try to maintain the structure under it either.

That said, Wired has put together one of their How-To wikis on this.


In space, no one wants to hear you burp

08/26/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


Carbonated drinks in space are a no-no:

One of the items the astronauts might like to have when they are on orbit is soda, or carbonated beverages. Many years back, they decided to fly the soft drink Coca Cola® on the shuttle. First, it had to be packaged in a special can to keep it under pressure so it wouldn't lose its carbonation, and to keep it under pressure so the soda and the carbonation would not separate in microgravity. Not only is carbonation difficult in microgravity, it causes you to burp. On earth, that's not such a big deal, but in microgravity it's just gross! Because there is no gravity, the contents of your stomach float and tend to stay at the top of your stomach, under the rib cage and close to the valve at the top of your stomach. Because this valve isn't a complete closure (just a muscle that works with gravity), if you burp, it becomes a wet burp from the contents in your stomach. I've been told this is NOT pleasant!

Who knew?

(Via Irregular Webcomic)


IIS6 to IIS7 Handler Migration

08/20/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Programming

We had one big hiccup moving from IIS 6.0 to the 7.0 version.

In the Web.Config, IIS 7.0 no longer likes to have an httpHandlers section. We had:

   <remove verb="*" path="*.asmx"/>
   <add verb="*" path="*.asmx" validate="false"
   System.Web.Extensions, Version=1.0.61025.0,
   <add verb="GET,HEAD" path="ScriptResource.axd"
   System.Web.Extensions, Version=1.0.61025.0,
   Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"

A very good guide to IIS 7.0 migration issues is located here, and we used that to help guide our transition, though it missed a couple of issues.

We had to put in a <system.webServer> section. We moved the <httpHandlers> code into there, but instead of <httpHandlers>, the section should now be called <handlers>.

One thing that is not mentioned is that your handlers should have names now, so we tried changing things like this:

   <remove name="asmx" verb="*" path="*.asmx" />
   <add name="asmx" verb="*" path="*.asmx" ... />
   <add name="scriptResource" verb="GET,HEAD" ... />

Trying the web server yet again, we ran into another error, "unrecognized attribute 'verb'" on the "remove" line.

Well, it turns out that the remove syntax has changed, such that you only need the name. We had been fooled by the IIS 6.0 similarity between the add and remove syntax and thinking it still applied.

Changing the remove line to just:

   <remove name="asmx" />

...worked just fine.

This did not come up in our searches for "unrecognized attribute "verb", so hopefully, this saves someone else a bit of time.


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