Monday, October 15, 2007

iPhone/iPod Touch SDK

My iPod Touch runs some variant of OSX Leopard, that seems pretty obvious. So why am I not surprised Apple haven't released a SDK for it given that the whole of Leopard is still under a strict non-disclosure agreement which is still being enforced?

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I was reading this advice about running as a non-Admin user on your Mac, when I realised it's totally backwards.

It advises setting up and using a new account, to which administrative privileges are not granted. It advises

If you want to transfer any data (such as preferences files or e-mail messages) from your current account to the new one, drag the items from their current location in your Home folder to the corresponding location in the new account’s Home folder.
Oh, just like that? All my preferences, bookmarks, settings, documents, music and photos? This is bad advice. Setting up a new user account for a little change like this is quite unnecessary and practically destructive of your data as you can never migrate everything (1). If I'm not mistaken, it's perfectly possible to remove the admin privileges from any user account created in OSX, including those created with Setup Assistant (2). Another reason it's bad advice is that if you can't stand running as non-admin because of some behaviour of other, you can't just Go Back. Which you should always be able to do with changes spouted in an online column.

Far better to set up a new account called Admin, with admin rights, then remove those admin rights from your current account. If you ever do anything in Terminal using sudo then add your current account to the sudoers file using visudo before you do this as it's a pain to do it afterwards (believe me, if you don't understand that or have never heard of sudo you don't need it). (3)

I did it to see what it was like, having experienced nightmarish scenarios in Windows trying to run as a non-admin user (this is much mitigated in Vista, more on which later) and it's just fine - I love OSX's admin escalation paradigm anyway, being able to set/unset with the little padlock is much nicer than Windows Vista's UAC, but the only extra time I've noticed having to authenticate is adding an appliction to the Applications folder, and I don't do this very often. (well, every day if you count getting the nightly trunk build of Camino, but I don't mind that). In fact, I have a Camino image waiting now.. I have to enter the admin user name and password, which is mildly annoying compared to just password, but I can also disable auto-login on my current account knowing Beck can enter the password, and keep the viciously complex password for my admin account. Yes, I know that all of these passwords can be bypassed with OSX install disks, but I am thinking of mitigating that by using Filevault to encrypt my home directory. I just need a backup strategy first!

Ordinary User stuartd

(1) Creating a new user profile is a good way of losing cruft but it has to be deliberate and consensual.

(2) As a software consumer I think "Assistant" sounds a lot more promising than "Wizard", but is that just because I have read Terry Pratchett / JK Rowling? Shop Assistant, Library Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Rincewind, Harry Potter. Which one do you want helping you?

(3) I missed the old sudo warning when I got my new MacBook.

New speed cameras on the A27

I went to Eastbourne today, and noticed there are two speed cameras between Falmer (Sussex/Brighton University) and Lewes where I work, one just after the University bridge and another a mile or so further on. They're both currently pointing East, ie Brighton -> Lewes. It was hard not to notice, as the cars in front slowed down to 30 mph (which is not in fact the national speed limit, no matter how much people who drive on Sundays wish it was)

Not really a problem for me in my old car. They look a bit temporary, I wonder if they're the harbinger of catastrophic roadworks?

Edit: the cameras have been covered up ever since, and the sign saying roadworks are scheduled has been taken down.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Touch notes

A couple of things I have noticed about my iPod Touch:

1) If you do a big swaparound of music, several GB or so, the portrait-mode cover art and the thumbnails are wrong but the right picture is displayed in coverflow (landscape mode.) A full restore fixes this.

2) Before restoring the device, iTunes has to download a 150 MB disk image. Not surprising after the fact, but it increases the already long time it takes to restore over USB. I don't suppose it's feasible to have a connector which could connect to either USB or Firewire, which is a pity as USB is noticeably slower than Firewire.

3) Turning off wireless increases battery life hugely.

4) It optimizes photos - I added a thousand or so, expecting to fill up the Touch. iTunes spent all night optimizing them, as there's no point storing 2460x1280 on a little screen like that: it's a pity this can't be done offline, as this means I have to leave the Touch plugged into the computer all night and thus within reach of the children in the morning. But, when they're on the device, they look great and in slideshow mode you can fast-forward at 20 images per second at high quality. And they only took up a gig or so. [Edit: it doesn't take that long, even for lots of photos]

5) It's tough putting a decent sized music collection on 16GB: my old 40GB 4G used to have everything on it that I would ever want to listen to, but you need a different strategy for 16GB . I won't bore you with mine but it uses half a dozen playlists and smart playlists, fortunately you can drop them all in a folder to keep them out the way (of accidental deletion, mostly!)

6) The back scratches whatever you do. My case hasn't come yet because of the postal strike. I'll be having words with Danny (who works for the PO) when I see him about it!

7) It is a beautiful, wonderful device. And it sounds brilliant, I think even better than my old iPod.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Straighten up and fly right

I've moved my dock to the right hand side of my screen on my macbook - when the display resolution is 1280x800 then vertical space is far more premium than horizontal, especially as a decent sized dock could be 100 pixels high, thus being 12% of the vertical viewing space even without the menu bar vs being 100 px wide and 8% of the horizontal aspect. It bugs me hugely, obviously, that the dock is away on the right but I'll get used to that and I do already really appreciate viewing documents and code without it breaking up my reading eyeline. I've left it at the bottom upstairs, it seems OK on 1280x1024 and I don't do much reading on that Mac, more pictures. Gruber made me try it out and I like it.

Incidentlly, I noticed that a car number plate in Heroes tonight was NCC-1701..

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Better than us

Check out these Japanese manhole covers. I love the way the page's margins move when you scroll down, and the idea of having public art just to be walked on.