Mac OS X - Intro Notes - Back to Index



If you want to rip movies onto your Mac you might want to look at RipIt. It won the 2009 MacWorld Editors' Choice Award and has been verified to work with over 250,000 unique discs.


A few days ago I did a secure erase of the internal drive on my old iMac and reinstalled Leopard on it (I don't have a retail copy of Snow Leopard). I have now sold it to a friend who seems very pleased, and I am now back down to a single computer - the way things should be:-)

I have only had one problem with the new iMac. I had ordered the optional Apple Remote and although it works fine in general it refuses to pair with the machine. While I still had it I tried the old remote and the strange thing is that it paired OK.

For a long time my wishlist has included the ability to keep Xcode up to date using Software Update rather than having to download a new copy whenever it is updated. So I was pleasantly surprised when Software Update offered me Xcode Update 3.2.1 - perhaps I just never noticed it before?


I bought myself a new 21.5" iMac for Christmas and have been busy setting it up. My old iMac has served me well for a little over three years and there was nothing wrong with it (other than a stuck scroll ball on the mouse). However, I felt like upgrading and the old one will be going to a friend to replace an ancient Mac laptop running a pre-OS X system. I hadn't bothered upgrading to Snow Leopard because I was thinking about a new machine, so not only do I now have a new iMac with bigger, higher resolution screen, SD card reader, bluetooth keyboard and mouse (the touch surface is great), bigger hard drive etc, but I am also running a new OS and a new version of iPhoto (iLife is included with new machines). I also replaced my 250GB LaCie external drive with a new 1TB iomage unit (for Time Machine backup). Everything is just that bit more refined now.


When I bought my iMac I was reasonably impressed with the audio quality of the built in speakers but I knew I would be getting external speakers, mainly because I am a bit of a bass fiend. I chose Harmon Kardon Soundsticks and have found them to be excellent. Here is a blog post by an equally satisfied customer.

Confused about the way Mac OS X chooses which application to open a file with? Wondering exactly what changed between Leopard and Snow Leopard? Then read this thorough article by John Siracusa - Metadata madness

John Gruber explains how to create Ogg Theora files on Mac OS X (which you need to do if you want to use the HTML 5 <video> tag and have you site work in Firefox).


I have just disabled automatic loading of "Invisible" Flash in ClickToFlash as per this recommendation.


Fortune magazine names Steve Jobs CEO of the Decade.


Not really about OS X but I thought I would mention TapLynx, which is a powerful iPhone framework for rapid development of iPhone Apps without learning Cocoa.


Great article by Matt Neuberg on Tracking Down Snow Leopard's Apple Events Bug.

Apple may be behind new Intel Light Peak high-speed optical interface.


iPhone app store is a squatter's delight.


Drew McCormack speculates about why Apple have released the source code of Grand Central Dispatch under an Apache open source license.


I don't think anyone has officially obtained Snow Leopard yet but its release is iminent. John Gruber is liking the new system-wide Services.


An all new version of Hex Fiend (by ridiculous_fish) has just been released.


Here is a list of ten Mac apps that make Windows users drool [don't Windows users drool all the time? - Ed].


rEFIt is a boot menu and maintenance toolkit for EFI-based machines like the Intel Macs. You can use it to boot multiple operating systems easily, including triple-boot setups with Boot Camp. It also provides an easy way to enter and explore the EFI pre-boot environment.


Landon Fuller recently posted about some Critical Mac OS X Java Vulnerabilities - I followed his advice and disabled Java in Safari.


John Gruber has written an excellent blog post called complex which explains why Apple was so successful with the iPhone.


Brian Mastenbrook has discovered a disclosure of information vulnerability in Safari.


I ran Software Update on the 16th which brought my system up to 10.5.6. There were lots of reports of the update not working but it ran fine for me. The only problem I have noticed since updating is an "audio pop" through the headphone output when the audio circuitry turns on. Rebooting with no devices plugged in and resetting the PRAM have been suggested as possible solutions but it is not a big deal so I haven't bothered trying them yet.


Someone who read yesterday's entry on this page emailed to tell me about get_iplayer, a Perl script which allows you to download programmes from the BBC in H.264 format. I just tried it and it works a treat - no need to install proprietory stuff from Adobe.


The BBC has just announced that it has created a version of the iPlayer that works with both Mac and Linux computers. Apparently it uses Adobe's AIR technology which I don't know anything about - so I won't trust it on my Mac. I will stick to streaming in the browser for now thank you very much.


MacFUSE allows you to extend Mac OS X's native file handling capabilities via 3rd-party file systems.


HTTP Client is a Mac OS X Leopard developer tool for debugging HTTP services by graphically creating & inspecting complex HTTP messages.


Over a year ago I linked to a blog post by Drew Thaler called Don't be a ZFS hater. Apparently he drew a lot of flack for dissing case-insensitivity in filesystems, so he followed it up with a post called The Case Against Insensitivity.


Are Safari's new anti-phishing features useful? Article by Rich Mogull in TidBITS.


No exactly about Mac OS X, but good news that Apple appears to be taking the environmental impact of its activities seriously - Apple 2008 Environmental Update.


How to disable DHCP-specified DNS servers in Leopard.


I use command line tools for lots of stuff on my iMac so I don't use the Finder very much. If I want to search for files I generally use find(1) or locate(1). Spotlight was introduced in Tiger as a new way to search for files but it came in for a lot of criticism and I was never tempted to use it. However, as Matt Neuburg wrote last year, it was much improved in Leopard - see Spotlight Strikes Back.


Rich Mogul explains how to configure Leopard's firewall (it has changed from how it worked in Tiger).

Shortly after my last entry on this page Apple released a fix for the DNS flaw as part of Security Update 2008-005.


Apple fails to patch critical exploited DNS flaw.


Last month there was an ARDAgent vulnerability announced see Rich Mogul's article on TidBits.


I don't think I have mentioned Rogue Amoeba before. They are an audio software company for Mac OS X with their most famous product being Audio Hijack Pro. They also have some freebies including SoundSource which lots of people find very useful.


I recently noticed that in Leopard, when you go to the Advanced tab in Safari preferences there is a check box to "Show Develop menu in menu bar". I checked it and then had a look at the new menu. Web Inspector is excellent, specially in it's "Network Timeline" mode.


I just read facinating excerpt from "Code Name Ginger" which give some insight into the way Steve Jobs thinks and works.


In early versions of Leopard, DNS lookups were changed to request an SRV record rather than an A record. Apparently this caused problems for a lot of users because there are still DNS servers on the Internet that do not support SRV records. It seems that with 10.5.3, Apple have reverted to the previous behaviour.


WebKit's core JavaScript engine just got a new interpreter, code-named SquirrelFish.


When I first opened Address Book in Leopard it was starting from scratch without my old preferences or data. I then imported all my contacts from my most recent Address Book backup. It was not until a few days later that I noticed my father's birthday had changed! I started to investigate and whilst I don't understand the exact details I have a pretty good idea of what happened.

Often when I enter someones birthday I don't know the year, in which case I always entered 1000 as a dummy year (you had to enter something and I wanted it to be obvious that it was not someones actual year of birth). There were about 20 such birthdays and it looked like they had all been shifted back in time by 6 days. Well not quite, my mother's birthday is in January, and that had only shifted back by 5 days. I posted a question in comp.sys.mac.system and got some interesting answers.

The theory is that when I entered the date in Tiger it converted it to an internal representation to store in the database which, in Tiger, resolved back to the same date I had entered. But in Leopard something about the date arithmetic is different, which causes it to be resolved to a different date. Searching the web I found a Mac OS X Developer Release Note which included something about NSDatePicker date arithmetic improvements:

NSDatePickerCell's date arithmetic implementation has changed substantially in Leopard, abandoning use of the obsolete NSCalendarDate class (which only supports the Gregorian calendar, and yields imprecise results for dates in the distant past -- e.g. for years circa 1500) in favor of a fully modern NSCalendar-based implementation underpinned by ICU library routines. This fixes significant editing issues for Gregorian calendar dates, while providing substantial localization improvements for non-Gregorian calendars.

I just found a very useful Calendar Converter on the Fourmilab website. If I enter 1000-05-25 in the Gregorian calendar then it shows it as 1000-05-19 in the Julian calendar, and if I enter 1000-01-20 it shows 1000-05-15, exactly matching the shifts I observed. So basically Tiger was assuming a Gregorian date but Leopard is converting it to Julian calendar (presumably because the Gregorian one was not actually introduced until 1582.

I have corrected the erroneous dates by hand and switched to using 1901 as a dummy year instead of 1000 to avoid potential confusion!

Oh, and here is Apple's NSCalendar Class Reference which sheds some light on the issue.


Last week a box arrived from Apple containing Leopard and iLife '08. I had decided to bite the bullet and make time to upgrade my iMac Core 2 Duo. I prepared for the job by tidying up a load of stuff in my home directory and copying it onto an external drive. I wrote a page of notes including things like my ADSL username and password and printed it out to use during installation and then unplugged everything except the keyboard. When I was ready I inserted the Leopard DVD and proceeded with an erase and install. It all went smoothly and I got back on the Internet to run Software Update - on the third check it showed no more updates. Then I connected my external drive and copied my old home directory to a subdirectory in my new home directory.

Next I installed VoodooPad so I could work with all my notes, then the new iLife. While I was installing stuff I slowly started recovering stuff I needed (my iPhoto library, iTunes library etc) from my old home directory. I installed a few more Apps that I use, and then moved on to MacPorts. This required Xcode and I decided to install it from the Leopard DVD rather than downloading it because I could see no evidence that the version on the Apple Developer Connection site was any newer than the one on the DVD. Once I had MacPorts working I could install all the command line tools I use, most importantly slrn, mutt-devel +ssl, msmtp and gnupg.

At this point I reformatted my external drive as a single partition and used it as a storage location for Time Machine. This replaces my old backup scheme of just rsyncing my home directory to the external drive, a scheme which may have been flawed anyway because I don't know whether rsync was syncing resource forks (I suspect it wasn't). Once Time Machine did its thing I could relax a bit, knowing that I once more had two copies of my home directory, but I really should do a home directory backup to DVD(s) and keep them off site.

After a day or so more tinkering I created a separate admin account then turned my main account into a standard one, adding it to the sudoers file. I don't log in to the admin account but just use it to authenticate when needed from my non-admin account. Not only does this mean that I have a vanilla admin account to log into if my main account somehow gets screwed up, but it is a fundamental security measure based on the principle of least privilege.

It seems like Leopard is generally snappier than Tiger but that is an unreliable subjective impression. The new iPhoto looks nice. Terminal now has tabs and I was surprised when I first tried sshing to another machine - a box popped up asking if I wanted to save the password in my keychain - sure, why not? (I have set it so that my keychain is locked when the machine sleeps). I don't have time to write up more extensive notes but I am sure I will be reporting back with interesting updates.


I have heard good things about Coda, a "one-window web development" App from Panic which they are currently selling for just $79. It won the 2007 Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X User Experience.


The Omni Group are generating some interesting stats from their Omni Software Update system. It seems that 67.1% of their customers are still running Tiger while 32.5% are on Leopard. In terms of hardware, 83.6% of their customers are using Intel Macs while only 16.4% are still using PowerPC based machines.

Back in May 2006 there was a good four part article at RoughlyDrafted called Unravelling The Mac OS X Linux Kernel Myth.


There used to be a project called DarwinPorts at but it was renamed MacPorts and moved to (the old URL redirects to the new one). There is also a website at which claims to be the DarwinPorts project. This is causing considerable confusion despite the fact that has never been the project website. Apparently is operated by Mat Caughron as an unofficial and unwelcome "mirror" of MacPorts in a mischievous attempt to garner advertising revenue and glean user email addresses. Here is a January 2008 post about on the macports-dev mailing list which discusses the issue.


I just updated my MacPorts installation and then ran "port outdated" which told me I had 16 outdated ports. I ran "sudo port upgrade installed" which seemed to work fine but I discovered a problem when I tried to send an email using mutt. I got an msmtp error, complaining that the libgnutls library was not loaded. Investigating further I realised that although msmtp had not been updated, gnutls had. The old version of gnutls was deactivated and msmtp obviously didn't know about the new active version. I uninstalled msmtp and then the old versions of gnutls and then reinstalled msmtp. That fixed things but there may have been an easier way and I would have hoped that it would have taken care of itself.

VectorDesigner from TweakerSoft won "best of show" at Macworld 2008.


Here is an ars technica review of the beta version of VirtualBox, a new solution for Mac x86 virtualisation (in competition with Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion).


I just listened to the MacBreak Weekly podcast number 74 and learned some interesting stuff. For one thing I learned that MacHeist was behind a publicity stunt that saw unsuspecting clients of web hosting companies in fear for the integrity of their own sites after hearing that some sites had been defaced by hackers. In fact the "defacement" was done in collusion with the site owners and without the knowledge of the hosting companies. Details are in the current version of the MacHeist Wikipedia page (I haven't checked sources).


Adam Leventhal discovered that the Mac OS X implementation of D-Trace has been crippled by preventing it from examine or recording data for processes which don't permit tracing - like iTunes for example.


Hosted at Mac OS forge, the Open Solaris ZFS filesystem has now been ported to the Mac.


Steve Jobs takes the number one spot in the Fortune list of the 25 most powerful people in business.


Google Mac Developer Playground is a place where Google collects a number of Mac related open source projects.


I have just installed Perian, which is a free, open source QuickTime component that adds native support for many popular video formats.


I have recently become a bit of a fan of MacBreak Weekly, which is an hour long weekly Mac radio on the TWiT Netcast Network. Sounds pretty geeky doesn't it? Well I guess it is, but it is also very entertaining, thanks to the involvement of Leo Laporte, Andy Ihnatko and others.


Rudix is another porting system for Mac OS X - I have no idea how it compares with MacPorts which is what I use.


Safari 3 has been available in beta for a while but it is now included in Leopard. It has also been made available for Tiger users as part of the recent 10.4.11 update. Surfin' Safari has a useful article called Ten New Things in WebKit 3.


Mac OS 10.5 Leopard has been unleashed on the public - here is John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review. There are lots of new security features in Leopard - here is Matasano Chargen's roundup.


I just downloaded a video file with a .m4v extension. When I double-clicked the file it opened in iTunes and I could only hear the sound track. It had imported it into my iTunes "Movies" folder, presumably so it would get synced onto the video iPod (that I don't have). If I explicitly opened the file in QuickTime it worked fine so I did some searching and came across a forum post in which it was claimed that a .m4v file is just a .mp4 file with the wrong extension! Apparently it was introduced by Apple for video+audio files and the extension can be safely changed. I tried that and it solved the problem.


Michael Tsai blogs about ZFS - and so does Drew Thaler.


Steven Frank compares his experience installing Windows on a Mac with that of struggling to install it on a Sony VAIO. His conclusion? Macs Really Do Run Windows Better (there are some dissenting voices amongst the comments, but not many).


Sorry for straying off the topic of Mac OS X but what is going on with the iPhone and how it relates to open vs. closed platform issues raises important questions about where Apple is going, and that has implications for the future of Mac OS X. I did think about mentioning this in my "hacktivism" section because it is about digital freedom, but no, I will mention it here instead - iPhone & iPod: contain or disengage? by Wil Shipley.


Even though I personally think that musical ringtones are an abomination, I agree with John Gruber's piece called The Ringtone Racket which criticises Apple's recent announcement about ringtone availability for the iPhone.


There is a new image editor called Acorn from Flying Meat software (developer of VoodooPad which is one of my most frequently used apps). I don't have anything to use for image editing and will download and try this as soon as I get time. It uses Core Image.


Having upgraded my MacPorts installation yesterday, I have now reviewed what I had written on a page titled "Porting Projects" on this website. Well it was all out of date so I deleted it. The Fink website seems a bit out of date too, because they are still referring to MacPorts as DarwinPorts and pointing at a non-existent DarwinPorts website.

It seems to me that MacPorts is the way to go now. With the release of v1.5 the transition from DarwinPorts is basically complete and with the MacPorts project being hosted by Apple on the Mac OS forge server it hopefully has a secure future.

I have found a useful page of information about The Intel Mac Boot Process.


About eight hours ago I decided to run "sudo port -d selfupdate" to update my MacPorts installation. I then ran "sudo port upgrade installed" to update all my installed ports. When that was finished I could no longer run mutt - disaster! It gave a "dyld: Library not loaded" error which I found referenced in a January posting to macports-users with subject problem upgrading mutt-devel. This exactly matched my problem description and unfortunately is seems the OP had not been able to resolve the issue (and ended up compiling from source).

I decided to take the bull by the horns and do something drastic. First I uninstalled MacPorts from my machine (I had originally installed it from DarwinPorts-1.3.1.pkg). Next I downloaded XCode 2.4.1 (which took about four hours on my 512k ADSL connection) and ran the installer to update my XCode 2.4 installation. Then I downloaded MacPorts-1.5.9-10.4.dmg (I am running a fully up to date Mac OS X 10.4.10), installed it, and ran "sudo port -d selfupdate. At this point I had been without email for about seven hours and was starting to get the shakes:-)

Finally I ran "sudo port install mutt-devel +ssl" and hey presto! It ran with no errors. It was then just a question of installing about a dozen other ports that I use and I am finally back where I started - but with everything up to date.

One of the ports I use is lbdb: The Little Brother's Database which allows me to look up email addresses in my Address Book from within mutt (the only Mail User Agent I use).


If you want a good review of the iPhone check out iPhone in depth at ars technica.


As a Mac user who does all his email using mutt I was interested to note a GPL Perl script called v2m for converting vCards to a mutt alias file.

Wil Shipley likes the iPhone despite the current lack of SDK, but rails against Jobs' WWDC announcement to developers that they can create apps for it using AJAX - iPhone's AJAX SDK: No, thank you.


Changes to the Dock in Leopard do not follow the Human Interface Guidelines.


New York Magazine has an interesting feature about Steve Jobs in which it is claimed that the iPhone inaugurates a dangerous new era for him - see Steve Jobs in a Box.


The Top Secret Apple iPhone tests.


Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz has gone on record to claim that Apple will use his firm's ZFS file system within Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard'.


John Siracusa explains his problem with the Finder.

From "Using RadarWeb: The Apple Bug Reporter" by Scott Stevenson:

The Apple Bug Reporter is your single greatest tool in influencing the development of the platform. You don't need to be an actual programmer to use it, and it's much more than just a "bug reporter." It's a way to provide any kind of structured feedback on Apple software, hardware, documentation, services, or practically anything.


Mac OS X 10.4.9 improved the ability of the system to detect damaged or corrupted disk images before mounting them.


Iljitsch van Beijnum reviews Apple's NSA-approved Tiger security configuration guides.


If you suspect a memory problem with your Mac then it might be worth trying Memtest OS X.


Finally the rumours can be put to rest! Apple has reached a deal with the Beatles to end the dispute over the use of the Apple name.


The "Month of Apple Bugs" is over and there is a good summary at "tales of being tj" titled What did I learn from the MOAB? Not Much.


Landon Fuller is attempting make fixes available for each bug posted during this Month of Apple Bugs.


I recently received a letter from Nominet asking me to confirm my registration of a dot org dot uk domain. I followed the instructions by going to and clicking on "Start Registrants Online". I entered my domain name and security code but when I clicked on the "Login" button the new window that opened was completely blank. Since a window had opened I did not think the problem could be caused by the fact that I was blocking pop-up windows but I tried unblocking them anyway and it did not help. My setup is Safari 2.0.4 running on Mac OS X 10.4.8 with all software updates. I emailed Nominet and got a reply which said:

Unfortunately there appears to be an issue with some versions of Safari which results in a blank screen on various websites, including our own. If you carry out a search on keywords, you will find a large number of hits with this issue being discussed.

I did a search and found that there were indeed such issues being discussed, but most did not seem relevant and those that were did not come to any conclusion, so I decided to have another look myself. Looking at the source of the page with the "Login" button I noticed that it was implemented in JavaScript with alternate code for browsers that are not JavaScript enabled. So I tried disabling JavaScript in Safari and BINGO! - it worked fine.

So is the problem with Safari or Nominet? It is hard to say. When I tried validating the page with the "Login" button using the W3C Markup Validation Service it had to guess a DOCTYPE and when it guessed "HTML 4.01 Transitional" there were 28 errors. Given that it is not valid HTML, the fact that other browsers manage to cope with it does not imply a bug in Safari. On the other hand, even if all the page errors were fixed, the problem might persist. I hope someone else finds this report useful and manages to resolve the issue.


I might be selling my 12" G3 iBook so I decided to do an erase and install of Mac OS X. I started it off but realised that it had not taken enough time to really erase the disk so I interrupted it and started again. This time I opened Disk Utility from the install screen to see what options there were. A default erase doesn't really erase anything, it just initialises the disk and any existing data will get written over whenever the corresponding sector happens to get written. There were two other options which do erase data, one being to write zeros on everything (which still leaves data vulnerable to certain recovery techniques) and the other to write over the disk with random data eight times, which is pretty secure. My iBook has a 40GB disk and I started the random write over 24 hours ago - it is about a third done!


From ars technica in August - Time Machine and the Future of the Filesystem.


Check out the Real Week of Independent Mac Developers. One of the apps mentioned is CSSEdit from macrabbit, which looks like a really nice app for creating cool websites.


John Gruber reports on a DMG Kernel Panic Security Issue and reminds us to turn off Safari's "Open safe files after downloading preference".


Google has just released version 1.2 of the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) with full Mac OS X support provided by WebKit.


Many people think that the Mac OS X finder is archaic and long overdue a complete re-implementation. A common acronym is FTFF which is a call for Apple to "Fix the Fucking Finder". This situation has lead third party developers to come up with a number of alternatives to the Finder, as discussed in Brian Kerr's FTFF already article. I have just heard about yet another new alternative called Liquifile.


Apple has switched to a new disk partitioning scheme known as the GUID partition table, or GPT. This new scheme offers a number of advantages over the previous scheme, but it also presents some new challenges. Technical Note TN2166 describes GPT in general, and gives some specific details about how Apple uses GPT.


Red Sweater Blog has a good review of John Gruber's "Hig is Dead" talk that he gave at C4.


While the PC industry seems to be making some effort to reduce the usage of nasty chemicals in their products, Apple has not fared very well in recent comparisons. Greenpeace has started a greener apple as a site to help customers and potential customers put pressure on Apple to clean up its act. Whilst this is an important issue, there are other things computer users should be thinking about in terms of the environmental impact of their activities. For example, I have only a single computer, a 12" iBook which I bought more than three years ago. Since it is small it uses few raw materials. As a laptop with an LCD screen it uses minimal power, and whenever I am not using it I close the lid which puts it to sleep so it uses virtually no power. I might replace it this year but it is still quite usable and will go to a good home. No matter what chemicals are in it, my computer usage has a far lower impact than the sort of person who buys a new desktop PC and big CRT monitor every year and keeps a couple of machines running 24/7. I do have a wireless ADSL router which I keep switched on but it only uses about 10W.

John Gruber nominates Techworld's Kieren McCarthy as Jackass of the Week for a stunningly erroneous piece about the recent AirPort security updates.


It looks like there is loads of good software on Pure Mac. It even has disk images for System 7.01:-)


Mac OS Forge is dedicated to supporting the developer community surrounding open source components specific to Mac OS X. One of the things hosted on Mac OS Forge is MacPorts, formerly known as DarwinPorts. This is good news as far as I am concerned because it implies that MacPorts has a secure future and there is little chance that I will have to go back to using Fink.

I missed the announcement at the time, but on 2006-01-10, Garmin announced GPS product support for Mac OS X.


Some interesting speculation on 10.5 including possible kernel change and implementation of Windows XP API in Native Speaker by Robert X. Cringely.


Security threats to PCs with Microsoft Windows have increased so much that computer users should consider using a Mac, says a leading security firm.

The results of the sixth MDJ Power 25 list once again puts Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the top of the Mac industry tree. No surprise there but it is interesting to see who else made the list. I was only familiar with numbers 1, 14, 16, 19 and 20.


Check out John Gruber's take on Mark Pilgrim's decision to switch from Mac OS X to Ubuntu.


Dustin MacDonald expects to see resolution independence in Leopard.


Boot Camp Public Beta Macs do Windows, too.


Ridiculous Fish has released a hex editor for Mac OS X 10.4 called Hex Fiend.


Appscript is a high-level, user-friendly MacPython to Apple event bridge that allows you to control scriptable Mac OS X applications using ordinary Python scripts. Appscript makes MacPython a serious alternative to Apple's own AppleScript language for automating your Mac.


Installing Flip4Mac "Windows Media components for QuickTime" is simple and it allows playing wmv3 files in QuickTime.

I have heard a lot about Ruby, and a bit about Ruby on Rails. ADC has a nice article about using Ruby on Rails for web development on Mac OS X.


Here is the lowdown on the Safari shell script execution exploit.


There are promising signs that SVG is becoming more widely supported, making it practical to avoid using the old proprietary Flash format. For example, there are pages linked from this Google page which require SVG to render. Unfortunately I am running Safari 1.3.2 which does not have SVG support. Fortunately, as of 2005-12-17, SVG has been enabled by default in nightly builds of WebKit so it shouldn't be too long before it appears in an Apple Safari release.


Apple has been criticised over a new version of its iTunes program that can keep track of a user's listening habits.


Apple has started selling the first iMac computers that are powered by Intel's dual processor chip.


CLIX (command line interface for OS X) is a free GUI tool from Rixstep which can be used to submit, save and organise frequently used commands (as an alternative to typing them in Clix has received rave reviews from a number of sources.

Consola is a "Bluetooth Proximity Media Server" application for Mac OS X Tiger. It detects all Bluetooth enabled devices in range and sends them data such as text, images, animated Gif's, audio, flash, video, java, or vCards.


While updating the zenatode "content management system" to automagically maintain an XML sitemap I had the need (within a shell script) to obtain the last modified time of a file as a string in ISO 8601 format. According to this Google FAQ it can be done with the UNIX date command, however, the example they give uses options which are available in the GNU version but not the BSD version which comes with Mac OS X. Well my first thought was just to grab a copy of the GNU version from DarwinPorts but "port search date" seemed to indicate that it wasn't available. It took some determined Googling to eventually realise that gdate is distributed with other GNU utilities in "coreutils" which is available through DarwinPorts.

So I installed coreutils and used gdate in my script, but this seemed like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I know some of the other commands in coreutils might prove useful but I didn't really like the idea of my nice lightweight CMS relying on installing such a big chunk of code. I could have left things as they were but I decided to do a little refresher exercise in C programming and write a command called "lastmod" which just gives the last modified date in yyyy-mm-dd format of the file passed to it as an argument. Here is my minimal implementation - feel free to use it:

#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <time.h>
main(int argc, char *argv[])
  struct stat s;
  time_t epoch;
  struct tm *t;
  int y, m, d;
  stat(argv[1], &s);
  printf("%04d-%02d-%02d\n", y, m, d);


Check out Life with SQLite from the Big Nerd Ranch Weblog.


It seems like Apple is co-sponsoring a dastardly Microsoft plan to sabotage efforts towards adoption of ODF. What are they playing at? Groklaw is following the story.


Open Source Mac is a simple list of free, open-source software for the Mac.


Unsanity have recently released Smart Crash Reports which allows 3rd party developers to register their products such that in the event of a crash, the crash log is sent to the developer as well as to Apple.


In Tech Note 31 offline; no moof is good moof?, Jay Savage reports that the canonical dogcow reference has disappeared. Prompted by this story I checked my 2004-02-06 entry on this page and found that the dogcow tribute site I linked to is also gone:-) Fear not, here is the "Official Dogcow Website!" Moof! in Mind!


A bit of Mac OS X UI humour here. The iTunes Announcement from the perspective of an anthropomorphised brushed metal user interface theme.


I have just read a Macworld Mac OS X Hints article by Rob Griffiths which looks at the fs_usage, a real-time tool for monitoring file system activity.

If you are interested in the Mac OS X User Interface you should already know about John Gruber - check out this interview he did for GUIdebook.


It is not long since Apple revealed its plan to switch to Intel processors, and hackers who managed to get hold of a version of Mac OS X intended to run on the new "MacIntels" have already managed to tweak it to run natively on standard PC hardware. This was widely expected to happen.


If you need a GUI typesetting solution take a look at Lyx for Mac.

Following on from their successful 2004 list, MacZealots have published a Top 10 Shareware Apps of 2005.


WebKit now has its own website at OpenDarwin.


The news that Apple is switching from IBM to Intel chips inside its machines could spell a period of confusion for consumers, some analysts are warning.


I just read an interesting article about a problem with periodic tasks under Tiger.


MacZealots has a useful article about getting started in Mac development.


Michael Tsai has posted an interesting list of Tiger observations.

Zak Ruskin answers Dave Hyatt's question "What can Apple do?" regarding the KHTML development problems.


John Siracusa reviews Tiger in ars technica.


It is possible to run Mac OS X on a standard PC using the Open Source PearPC PowerPC emulator.


SubEthaEdit 2.1.2 has been released with an interesting special offer.


In his Response to some 1.3 Comments Dave Hyatt says "The feed URL dialog that tells you 10.4 must be installed to view RSS feeds is simply a bug and not part of a master plan for global domination."

Security Update 2005-004 provided a fix for the notorious mRouter local privilege escalation vulnerability.


Apparently the recently released Safari 1.3 does not handle feed:// URIs which Safari 1.2 coped with fine. Furthermore it seems that it was deliberately broken.


Panther users can now update to 10.3.9, which includes Safari 1.3 and new versions of WebKit, WebCore and JavaScriptCore.


Before backing up my iBook I always run through a checklist which includes:

So I have not run into the problem described by Scott Laird where Safari performance becomes significantly degraded. He discovered that it was due to the large number of cookies being stored. A comment on his article mentioned a Daring Fireball article about a somewhat similar problem with font caches (though it only seems to affect people who have installed PostScript fonts).

Apple eventually decided on a new name for Rendezvous. It is Bonjour.

And finally, Tiger will ship in 15 days time!


There is some interesting stuff over at 43 Folders.

Borkware LLC specialises in Mac OS X Consultation and Software Development, and they have an excellent collection of tips and tricks.

An finally, Bare Bones Software today announced new PunchOut 1.0 for Tiger!


Paul Graham writes about the Return of the Mac.


Civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has joined a legal fight between three US online journalists and Apple.


Davoud posted something in comp.sys.mac.system about using Macs in amateur astronomy and gave a link to his webpage on the subject.


John Gruber discusses Software Update Tips and Voodoo.


John Siracusa wrote Metadata, The Mac, and You in 2001 but it is still well worth reading now if you are confused about resource forks vs. filename extensions etc - perhaps even more so if you think you know it all:-)


I just ran Software Update and brought my system up to 10.3.6 with no problems.


Many people have recently started seeing problems with Safari failing to load pages on the first attempt. It seems that Safari is not to blame though, it is a symptom of a DNS/BIND/BSD problem. I can't say I fully understand what has happened but this thread at Apple Discussions goes a long way towards explaining things.


Mac OS X is praised by many for the elegance of its Aqua UI but it is far from perfect, and John Gruber has always seems to hit the nail on the head with his thoughtful criticism. When you drag an application icon off the Dock it disappears in a little cloud of smoke. This is a neat visual effect, but John digs deeper in a cleverly titled article - Examining the Consistency of Your Poofs.

Yesterday I attended a UKUUG Apple Technology Briefing at the Institute of Physics. The main talk was by Jordan Hubbard, manager of BSD Technologies for Apple. Jordan co-founded and helped manage the FreeBSD project for many years and had some interesting things to say about Apple's future plans for Mac OS X.


The winners of the 2004 Mac OS X Innovators Contest have been announced.


Brent Simmons is looking forward to the start of the Mac OS X conference.


VoodooPad is notepad application for Mac OS X which won a first place in last year's O'Reilly Mac OS X Innovators Contest. Think of it as a local version of a Wiki.


Ted Goranson takes an in-depth look at a "personal content management assistant" for Mac called Tinderbox.


Francois Joseph de Kermadec wrote a nice article late last year called Panther Maintenance Tips.


I just Googled for something and ended up reading a thread in the Macintosh Underground forum, which apparently has nearly 14,000 registered users. It might be worth a closer look.


Microsoft has now introduced their own version of the iTunes music store but all the tracks they sell are in a proprietary Microsoft DRM protected format and can only be purchased by customers using a Microsoft operating system and browser. Despite this they can't resist taking a swing at Apple for not supporting the ability to listen to Microsoft tunes on an iPod.


I downloaded ispell version 3.2.06 and tried following the instructions to build it on Mac OS X. I got it installed, but but it complained about a missing hash file and I couldn't be bothered to pursue it so I gave up and decided to install Fink.

Installing Fink was a doddle, and once it was installed, all I had to do to get a fully working ispell was "sudo apt-get install ispell". I also did "sudo apt-get install lynx" so now I have a text mode browser on my iBook (Safari is a fine browser, but there are times when lynx is the way to go).


I just read a 2004-07-20 article at AppleInsider about how, as a result of a trademark dispute, Apple will be phasing out the name "Rendezvous" for it's zeroconf networking technology, and calling it OpenTalk instead.


According to Tony Smith, Apple has filed for a European design trademark which may provide a tantalising glimpse of the company's long-awaited tablet computer.


This "top ten" list of troubleshooting tips for Panther seems a bit lame - anyone know of any better ones?


On returning from a recent climbing trip, my iBook had been repaired and was waiting for me at the UPS depot.

I seemed to remember having AppleWorks on my iBook when I first got it, but later I ended up searching for it in vain until I realised that I had wiped it when I did a clean install of Panther. It turns out that AppleWorks came pre-installed with the hardware but is not included in the standard Mac OS X software distribution.


My iBook has to go to Holland to have a logic board transplant.


Dave Hyatt has implemented a proposal to "namespace" the new Apple HTML extensions, which seems like a good solution to a controversial issue.


You can still "unprotect" your iTMS purchased songs using something which used to be called "Playfair", but which has been updated to work with Fairplay version 2 DRM and renamed hymn


Dave Hyatt reveals more Dashboard implementation details.


The Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is still going on in San Francisco. During the conference we have had the announcement of new, bigger cinema displays (up to 30 inch!), and a preview of Tiger.

One new feature of Tiger is something called Dashboard which apparently provides similar functionality to Konfabulator - leading to criticism that Apple have somehow "ripped off" Arlo Rose. Check out the following URLs for sensible discussion of the issue:


If you read through this file you will notice that I have referred several times to stuff on John Gruber's excellent Daring Fireball website. Well he today did something daring. Basically he asked readers to consider paying to become a "member" to fund his work on the site - which will however remain open access to all. I have done it already, since I think he is providing an excellent service to the Mac community.


Apple today launched its iTunes music store in parts of Europe, including the UK, where tracks will cost 79p each. All mainstream reports of iTMS and other similar services refer to what they call the "legal download market". As opposed to what, P2P piracy? The fact is that there is an enormous amount of quality music available legally for free on the Internet. OK, it tends not to be the big name bands, but a lot of that stuff is dross anyway. For a good selection of free music check out Legal Torrents.


Security Update 2004-06-07 would appear to have closed all the recently publicised URI/Launch Services-related vulnerabilities. John Gruber has updated his Ounce of Prevention page to reflect this.

Apple have launched an interesting new piece of portable multi-function hardware called Airport Express.


Although aimed at developers, these Apple software design guidelines may be of interest to a wider readership.


John Gruber has written a document called An Ounce of Prevention which gathers together his advice on closing the various URI-related vulnerabilities in Mac OS X.


Apple's chief software technology officer recently announced that the frequency of major new OS X releases (the ones that cost money) will be reduced after 10.4 (code-named Tiger).

If you are an Apple Developer Connection member then you can access the Bug Reporter as described here.


Here is an interesting account by John Gruber of how he managed to track down and fix a problem which prevented him from setting his default FTP client.


I recently discovered The Cult of Mac Blog.


John Gruber wrote an excellent piece called Ronco Spray-On Usability which delves into the reasons why desktop Linux systems of today are still providing a relatively poor "user experience". He uses Mac OS X as an example of how it should be done.

There is a useful Apple article about setting up Open Firmware password protection.

Excuse the shameless advocacy, but check out what these famous Mac users have to say.

Apple has seen its profits more than triple due largely to the amazing increase in iPod sales.


James Kahn wrote in OSNews about his experience switching to Mac OSX from a mixed Linux/Windows background.


Aaron Swartz has published an interesting technical description of the iTunes music store and the FairPlay DRM scheme it uses.


I got my copy of iLife '04 and used it to upgrade to iPhoto 4 (4.0.1 with software update) which is a significant improvement.

Mac OS X is three years old today and Ars Technica have an article about the progress made in that time.


Last night I updated to 10.3.3 with no apparent problems and today I ordered iLife '04.

Here is Apple's guide to using their new ADC Reference Library.


Matthew Thomas has switched from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X and reported on his first 48 hours enduring the new system.


Dave Polaschek has a useful guide to Magical Macintosh Key Sequences


Check out Brian Flemming's excellent short video commentary on the deceptive Super Bowl commercial.


According to MacFixIt I am not alone in having problems with tabbed browsing in the latest Safari and am hoping that a patch is available soon.

I have complained to Apple about the deceptive nature of the Super Bowl commercial for the Pepsi/iTunes promotion. Working with the RIAA and falsely attributing criminal conduct to teenagers is not likely to win many friends, particularly amongst potential Mac users who are also considering Linux. See this post at infoAnarchy.

On a much lighter note I just found a cool tribute site for Clarus the DogCow - Moof!

MacBand is a new site launched today which allows GarageBand users to share their creations with other users. All works submitted to MacBand are governed by a creative commons license which allow artists to retain whatever rights they desire for their work.


Updating to Safari 1.2 introduced serious tabbed browsing problems.

I have also been having occurrences lately (only since 10.3.2) of a sporadic problem where my iBook does not wake up properly. It asks me for a password, which it seems to accept, but then just gives me a screen that is blank apart from a functioning cursor. I can still get in remotely using ssh though. I will report back if I ever get to the bottom of it.

John Gruber posted a rave review of OmniWeb 5.0 beta 1 today at Daring Fireball.


I am too busy to start mucking about with GarageBand but I might buy iLife '04 just to get the new version of iPhoto. There are obviously loads of people using GarageBand already though, and a steady stream of tracks are being uploaded to the iCompositions site.


John Gruber comments on the recent announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show of a deal which will provide HP customers with Apple's iTunes and iPod technology.


On 2003-10-09 William Carrel posted this advisory about how a malicious DHCP response could grant root access to a machine running OS X. This vulnerability was addressed by Apple in a 2003-12-19 security update. For further information take a look at this article by John Welch. In fact my machine was not vulnerable anyway because one of the first things I do under OS X is to disable all Services in Directory Access (Authentication and Contacts search only Local Directory).

I still manage my email using mutt on a remote Debian box, but I have been playing around with Mac OS X Mail again and have solved one nagging problem. I had set up one Mail account to connect to an IMAP server at work and was disturbed by the fact that it was treating every file in my home directory as a mail folder. The server in question is running UW IMAP and I found this relevant discussion on the University of Washington IMAP Mailing List. It turns out that all I had to do was go to Advanced options for the account and set an IMAP Path Prefix.


So how does Panther compare with Jaguar? It certainly feels nicer, looks crisper and starts up significantly quicker. Expose works well and I have already started taking it for granted. I don't have time to go into any more detail but I think the upgrade was worth it and I am looking forward to continued improvements.


Time to install Panther on my iBook, so after checking the firmware on my LaCie FireWire drive I did a final incremental backup of my Jaguar installation and put the drive away for safe keeping. I chose to do an "Erase and Install" and it all went smoothly. First job was to get on the Internet and update to 10.3.1 and then I was ready to pull stuff off my Jaguar backup. Although I had burned my home directory to CD I was relieved when the FireWire drive mounted flawlessly. The only applications I needed to install were NetNewsWire and Carbon Copy Cloner so I got them fresh off the Internet. When I was happy with the setup I made a bootable clone of the new system on a spare partition on my FireWire drive (I will keep the Jaguar backup for a while in case there is anything I have forgotten).


With the release of 10.3.1 it seems I have run out of excuses for not upgrading - except the one about being too busy! I did find this article by John Siracusa though, which looks like a valuable Panther resource.


I have not ordered my copy of Panther yet, but have found this Troubleshooting Guide which might come in handy when I do get around to upgrading.

There have been reports of data loss on attached FireWire drives when Panther boots up. A workaround is to unmount and detach the drive before shutdown and only plug it in again once the OS is running. I might have to update the firmware on my LaCie drive.


I have just realised why I couldn't select a boot volume in the Startup Manager and am kicking myself. I had got so used to tapping the trackpad to click, that when it failed to work I didn't even think to try using the button! So it does in fact work as expected and now if my internal drive fails I know I can easily boot from FireWire.


I just want to follow up on a few things I mentioned in my First Impressions of Mac OS X. Note that I am now running 10.2.8 on my iBook but I will probably buy Panther in a few weeks.

One problem was Internet Banking which did not work for me using either IE or Safari under OS X. I came across a few suggestions to try but when I phoned the co-operative bank someone told me that they were planning to switch to a new non-Java system so I waited for that and it works perfectly.

I now have a 120GB LaCie FireWire drive on which I created a 40GB partition to back up onto using Carbon Copy Cloner. It was simple to create a bootable copy of my system but not so easy to boot from it! On page 42 of "Mac OS X in a Nutshell" I read that holding down T during startup causes the machine to boot from a FireWire drive but it didn't work and I eventually realised that it causes the machine to start up in target mode which is a different thing altogether (this has already been reported to O'Reilly). So then I tried holding down the option key instead to get me to the Startup Manager which showed a bootable system on the external drive but I couldn't select it. Eventually I had to bite the bullet and change the Startup Disk in System Preferences which worked fine. After changing back to the internal drive I set up CCC to do a synchronise which only takes a few minutes to complete. Now all I have to do is sort out the Startup Manager.

The only other software I have installed is NetNewsWire for reading RSS feeds, iCal Birthday Shifter for transferring Address Book birthdays to iCal, and RealOne Player from


A couple of weeks ago I took delivery of a 12" G3 iBook. I am starting to get the hang of it now - here are my first impressions of Mac OS X. Ian Gregory 2010