Part 1 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal

This journal documents my experiences with my first Mac— a 15in. PowerBook G4. Though owning a Mac is a new experience for me, using Unix (Solaris in particular) and Windows/XP is an everyday experience. I am quite comfortable using a terminal window, though I prefer to point-and-click and drag-and-drop. My Powerbook was purchased to replace my 3 year old Sony Vaio laptop running Windows/XP. The primary reason for switching to a Mac was because it ran Unix with a friendly, beautiful GUI; the secondary reason was because stuff "just worked". I believe that computers should make our lives easier, leaving us to enjoy those things that are fun.

The Arrival

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive.
The Beatles

Yeah, baby!
—Austin Powers

Thu Feb 17 23:20:51 2005

When I got home there were 2 boxes waiting for me. I took off my jacket, scarf, mp3 player, fleece, vest and boots, flicked open my Cybertool Swiss Army knife and started cutting the packing tape off the smaller box-- which ended up being the AppleCare Extended Warranty. (According to my parents, it was delivered a few hours after the laptop arrived, by a man who spoke with an American accent.)

Then I went for the big box. The laptop box comes enclosed in a thin cardboard box and wrapped in a plastic bag. The outer cardboard box had no dents, or scratches or smudges-- it was in perfect condition.

A sequence of images showing 1) the box, 2) the packaging, 3) the contents and 4) the laptop.

Read All About It

Thu Feb 17 23:36:10 2005

I'm reading the User's Guide (the white book in the center of the 3rd photo, above). Yes, that's right, I'm reading the User's Guide.

I logged in to #emacs IRC channel on Freenode to give everyone there an update and here's the exciting transcript:

<dagbrown> There's e1f`
<e1f`> greets
<bpalmer> give up on getting the powerbook to work?
<dagbrown> So what was broken in your new PowerBook?
<e1f`> for ongoing updates see
<harsha> hello e1f`
<e1f`> see also
<e1f`> haven't added them to the document yet
* harsha sees just one entry!
<bpalmer> up to the minute?
<bpalmer> you need a streaming webcam
<e1f`> i'm reading the user guide
<dagbrown> e1f: I should note that many people praise AppleCare service to the 
<e1f`> that's why i got it
<e1f`> i haven't turned it on yet
<dagbrown> e1f: I should further note that I've heard very few people say anything
           at all about IBM service.
<e1f`> i will be home tomorrow :)
<bpalmer> you're... you're... reading the *instructions*!?
<dagbrown> The instructions for my iBook are still in their shrink wrap.
<e1f`> bpalmer: yes, it's a unix box
<e1f`> thou shalt respect a unix box
<Riastradh> What kind of weird Mac user reads _instructions_?
<dagbrown> No it's not, it's a Mac.
<ro_> bpalmer, LOL LOL M()F()
<dagbrown> Boot it up, click on the pretty little pictures.
<dagbrown> If you *really* *really* hunt around, you'll find something called 
<e1f`> i'm not listening lalalala
<bpalmer> install the developer cd!
<e1f`> i'm on p.7
<harsha> what version of emacs do they ship with a PowerBook?
<dagbrown> harsha: 21.2
<dagbrown> Oh yes!  The other fun thing about Macintoshes!  Your meta 
           key doesn't work in emacs any more.
<harsha> I noticed that too.. you gotta use the ESC key
<e1f`> it's unlikely i will be running emacs locally, i ssh to a solaris box

User Accounts

Fri Feb 18 00:31:05 2005

I'm going to ignore the advice on The Tao of Mac about creating one Administrator account (which is given sudo privileges) and having all other accounts being normal user accounts. I base this decision on <arete>'s comment, “osx isn't windows, so you really don't need a separate admin account.”

I've stopped on page 47 of the User's Guide; I was surprised, a few pages back, to see contraction "don't" appear in the manual.

The NeXT Day

Fri Feb 18 10:04:09 2005

Went to bed at 1:05AM this morning and woke-up at 9:43AM. Slept soundly without any dreams or visions of PowerBooks dancing in my head. Now it's time for breakfast and a visit with my PowerBook.


Fri Feb 18 21:29:24 2005

After breakfast, and reading last Sunday's New York Times, it was time to play. I plugged-in the A/C adapter and started charging the battery at 12:45PM and by 1:45PM it was at 100% (the light around the adapter changes from orange to green. Then it was time to power-up.

A Sequence of images showing 1) the PowerBook charging, 2) booting, 3) the desktop after booting and 4) playing "The Right Stuff" DVD to drain the battery.

After entering the registration info (I wasn't connected to the Net so I deferred registration) it was time to play.

First Impressions


(Comparisons with my Sony Vaio) The silver metal look, the silent latch for the display, the audio quality of the speakers, all jacks along left and right, ethernet jack auto-detects another computer and auto-crossovers and speakable items (da coolest!) are super-luminal features.

Calibrating the Battery

—Nelson Muntz

Calibrating the battery involves charging the battery to 100% and then fully discharging it. If I hadn't read the User's Guide, I would not have found out about battery calibration. So to those nay-sayers, I can only suggest penance.


My biggest complaint about iPhoto is not being able to preview the contents of the CF-card without importing the contents. Not impressed.

Update, Tue Mar 01 14:47:43 2005: Submitted a bug-report to Apple, Problem ID No. 4030148 "Preview contents of CF card in iPhoto before importing".


Compare my Sony Vaio (aleph) and Apple PowerBook (mathilde) side-by-side.

Fri Feb 18 22:55:39 2005

Things I have to get used to: the keyboard layout (keep hitting caps-lock when reaching for the "A"); having "alt/option", "fn", "ctrl" and "apple" keys in different places than a wintel keyboard; no forward delete key— how about "shift-delete" mapping to forward delete? (Update: Ctrl-d works as forward delete!!!). uControl does support mapping Shift-Delete to forward-delete.

DVD Player Blues

The OSX DVD player is the most absolutely rudimentary player i have used when compared to winDVD (which is bundled with the Vaio) which has the ability to zoom the movie and then pan the zoom-frame around, and is capable of on-the-fly resizing of the movie window. Apple DVD Player is definitely a step-down in user-experience.


MenuMeters looks to be useful for those times when you wonder why something is taking long to start/finish and there is no feedback from the PowerBook (everything happens so silently).

Eye Strain

When the head aches, all the members partake of the pain.
—“Don Quixote”, Part ii. Chap. ii.

Sat Feb 19 08:52:42 2005

I realized that I was straining my eyes when reading the PowerBook screen (defaults to 12pt at 1280x854) when I got a headache at the end of the day, yesterday after being accustomed to 14pt fonts on the Vaio at 1024x768. Well, this morning I looked for ways to increase the the system fonts to 14pt but the best I could come-up with was to drop the resolution down to 1152x768 (System Preferences> Display) which increased the size of the fonts. This is surprisingly disappointing because under Windows/XP, I can easily change the system fonts, menu fonts and title-bar fonts to a particular point-size without changing screen resolution. (Update: <TDT|PB> on #macosx found that Finder > View > Show View Options permits font and icon sizes to be changed in the Finder only. Furthermore, the Finder's search-results window has a different set of preferences and the fonts have to be set there separately. I think a bit more thought should go into this to allow the fonts and sizes to be uniformly changed across the entire desktop.)

Arm Strain

For let our finger ache, and it endues
Our other healthful members even to that sense
Of pain.
—“Othello”, act iii. sc. 4.

Sat Feb 19 22:34:44 2005

My right arm, hand and fingers are sore from typing on the PowerBook keyboard. I've been accustomed to typing on the Vaio keyboard which has 2 pop-up feet in the back which tilts/slants the keyboard forward. After a suggestion from #macosx (of using a pencil, for heat dissappation, mostly) I have settled on a CD jewel case— comparing the displacement, with my Vaio, I think it needs to go up another CD case.

Modem Configuration

I configured the modem tonight and am now online via the PowerBook. I opened up a Terminal and looked through all the prefences, set-up the colors, set-up the Meta-key (alt) for emacs and ssh'd to a host on the EE network. When I couldn't figure out how to Page-up/down in emacs using the pageup and pagedown keys I asked in #macosx and it's Shitf+Fn+Pageup/Pagedown. The PowerBook doesn't have separate Paging/Home/End keys.

Fonts Copied

I copied over my favourite font "Lucida Console" (TrueType format) from the Vaio, onto a CF card, and transferred it to the PowerBook. To install a new font, double-click on the font, and when FontBook pops-up, click "Install Font". Done. Most impressive.

Killing Windows

Sun Feb 20 00:12:51 2005

I found out the hard way that CMD-q quits an application— Terminal is one application with multiple windows, so typing CMD-q closed ALL my Terminal windows. CMD-w closes a single window.

Update Mon Mar 26 21:41:39 2007: Set Terminal >Window Settings >Processes >Prompt before closing window appropriately (I have set it to "If there a processes other than: rlogin, telnet, slogin").

Backlit Keyboard

...a perpetual twilight, though sufficiently bright for their weak and watery eyes.

Sun Feb 20 10:23:04 2005

I love the backlit keyboard and the Automatic Light Sensor which adjusts the display brightness based on ambient light conditions. The sensor (inside the speaker grille) does get confused if I happen to reach over and my arms cover the speaker grille. I would occasionally move my hands off the keyboard, to the sides, to look for a particular key (still adjusting to the layout) and the screen would dim. The sensor treshold should be a bit more patient before adjusting.

The ALS gave me an idea about postcards— it would be cool to have holographic postcards which change depending on the viewer's ambient light level. So a postcard of Toronto's skyline in bright light would show the skyline in daylight and at night or in a dark room, the postcard would show the night-time skyline.

DVD Drive Vibrations

Lady Capulet: What noise is here?
Nurse: O lamentable day!
—“Romeo and Juliet”, act iv. sc v.

Mon Feb 21 08:35:51 2005

While playing a DVD (in the SuperDrive), there is a periodic vibration approx. every 6 seconds with a duration of approx. 1 second or less; it sounds like a low-frequency purr, or your stomach growling just for a second. This is quite noticeable during the soft parts or during conversations in the movie and ESPECIALLY ANNOYING when watching a movie with the PowerBook on the table in front of you. My fears about Apple Quality Control™ come true. Definitely not impressed. Here is an AVI recording from the movie Leon with the soundtrack muted so you can hear the drive vibrations; listen closely (you may have to turn up the sound on your speakers) just as the man gets shot with the paint-dart and then it continues periodically thereafter.

iCal Updates in the Dock

At first I thought, "Cool, the icon in the Dock show the current date". But the next day, I noticed that the date hadn't changed. It only changes when you click on it and open the iCal calendar— rather pointless. Not Impressed.

iCal Update, Mon Feb 21 19:36:55 2005: Here's an untested script, to be run by cron, that was given to me by <l008com> on #macosx:

 tell app "iCal"
 end tell

One problem with the above script is that cron doesn't run when the computer is sleeping; the general consensus, however, is that it's easier to just run iCal in the background at start-up.

A Hang and a Re-boot

Mon Feb 21 23:25:26 2005

Got back from work and noticed that my pb was not sleeping— pulsing eye and the fan was running. So I opened the lid and the keyboard was lit but the screen was not waking up. Touching the keys or rubbing the mouse-pad brought no response. Had to power-down and power-up. Hm. Let's just say I don't remember the last time I rebooted my Windows/XP Vaio laptop.

So, after the re-boot, I noticed that my display-resolution was back to the highest setting, not to 1152x768. REALLY NOT IMPRESSED.

Re-boot Update, Tue Feb 22 13:07:17 2005: David said that this is a known issue and is (re-) fixed in 10.3.8. If I could encounter this bug in 3 days of use it means that Apple Quality Control and Regression Testing™ is appalling to non-existent. There is no excuse for this. Not Impressed.

Kill Bill

Watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 on the Vaio. And another thing, I have a 16:9 aspect ration LCD on the PowerBook so why do I still get black bars when watching 1.85:1 anamorphic movies? The Apple DVD Player should do the right thing, figure everything out and fill the display with the frame. Update: Dave pointed out that the reason for the black bars is because the 15in. PowerBook's 1280x854 screen gives a ratio of 1.50:1. For the 17in., 1440x900 is a 16:10 ratio resulting in a ratio of 1.6:1.

Re-calibrate the LCD Display

Tue Feb 22 08:12:38 2005

The colors on the LCD display looks so much nicer after recalibrating it; they were washed-out using the default settings.

Finder FTP

Tue Feb 22 14:25:00 2005

Finder has an FTP client built-in (download only). Cmd-k. Nice to know. Many people ask about GUI FTP clients on #macosx but typically they want to upload files.

Technical Specifications

Tue Feb 22 19:53:15 2005

The technical specifications for Apple hardware documents are there for those interested in what's inside the pretty case.

Update, Wed Mar 09 19:16:11 2005: These developer notes are even more detailed.

Burning Bridges

Always with the negative waves Moriarty, always with the negative waves.
"Kelly's Heroes"

Wed Feb 23 08:48:18 2005

This happened late last night and I'm certain I'm not remembering everything exactly how it happened.

Decided to burn a CD last night with the 10.3.8 upgrade and NeoOffice/J DMG files. I had earlier modified the settings in the System Prefs, for when a blank CD is inserted, to "do nothing" (because this is what I do under XP). This is a bad idea for two reasons: 1) OSX is not XP and 2) after reading the docs it's better to leave it as "Ask What to do" so when a blank CD is inserted, an icon of the CD appears on the desktop and the sidebar of the Finder. If the setting is "do nothing" then this icon does not appear and you can't burn the CD (at least I couldn't figure out how to do this).

I inserted a blank CD, and I loaded up the CF card with the two DMG files. I selected the two files and clicked on the "burn cd" yellow radio-active icon in the Finder toolbar. A pop-up appeared telling me to drag the files to the CD in the sidebar (which isn't there at the moment). Most Illogical. I'm a bit confused at this point.

So after more MacHelp reading, I re-enable the preferences to "Ask What to do". So I now want to eject the CD so I can re-insert it for the "Ask What to do" pop-up to appear. Can't do it. Hm. So I look around the Utilities folder and find Disk Utility. I run that, and I see the CD drive in the sidebar there, and the toolbar has an eject button. So I click on the CD in the sidebar and eject it.

I re-insert the CD, the pop-up appear, I drag the 2 files to the CD icon in the sidebar and the files are "copied". Then nothing happened. I thought that the CD was cut, so I attempted to eject it. Nothing happened. Hm.

I clicked on the CD in the sidebar and another pop-up appears telling me that I have files waiting to be cut and that I should click on the yellow radio-active icon next to the CD. Ah.

The Register's 15in. PB Review

You say Goodbye and I say Hello
—“Hello, Goodbye”,
The Beatles

Thu Feb 24 09:17:16 2005

The Register has a review of the 15in. Powerbook.

SMART Reporter

Downloaded a copy of SMART Reporter. Looks like a cool utility.

Networking aleph and mathilde

Fri Feb 25 02:03:40 2005

Another late night playing around. Got an RJ45 patch-cable from work (no need for a cross-over cable as the PowerBook auto-detects and crosses it internally— coolness!) and connected my Vaio (named aleph) and the PowerBook together. In "System Prefs > Sharing", enabled Windows Sharing (the hint says you can access this computer from Windows using \\\elf). On the Vaio, I "Add a new network place", click, click, click, type in the PowerBook's hint and Windows says it's invalid. Feh. (Omitting the part about trying to fiddle with Windows Network Settings, giving up and the doing a System Restore to revert to the old settings). Next, I open a Command prompt and I can ping the PowerBook. Hm. Let's try something else— I enabled "Remote Logins" on mathilde and I was able to ssh and sftp from the Vaio with no problems. Hm. Dunno what's wrong. Don't care— very sleepy....


Fri Feb 25 09:31:50 2005

Downloaded my .zshrc file from the system to aleph and sftp'd it across to mathilde. Made a few modifications, ran chsh to change my shell from /bin/bash to /bin/zsh and all my prompt, my aliases and other settings I'm used to at work, are now available on mathilde.


Yesterday was the 50th birthday of Steve Jobs.

For Future Reference

Fri Feb 25 19:12:45 2005

<e1f> is there a nice, free solitaire game you guys recommend?
<RichardP> WindowsXP
<e1f> windowsxp is not a solitaire game, although it is a time-waster, it's not fun


Sic itur ad astra.
—The Aeneid

Sat Feb 26 11:37:44 2005

The back-lit keyboard and Solitaire XL; Dock is on the right.

Started the laundry this morning and installed Celestia, a real-time 3D space simulator, while the wash was in progress. While the clothes were drying, I copied over my MP3s (via sftp) from aleph to mathilde averaging transfer rates of 1.5MB/s.

Solitaire XL

Sat Feb 26 13:10:18 2005

Installed Solitaire XL (see URL above, in the previous day's entry).

DVD Player Icon

Why does the DVD Player icon in the dock resemble an iPod?

The Unix Mentality

Hey, this is Unix! I know this!
—Lex, “Jurassic Park”

Sun Feb 27 08:46:00 2005

I had earlier cut NeoOffice/J and the 10.3.8 patch DMGs to a CD mainly as a test of the CD-R drive. Last night, I uneventfully patched up to 10.3.8. Since the CD-R was in the drive, I decided to copy the Solitaire XL DMG to the drive as a backup. For some reason, when I dragged the icon to the CD-R in the sidebar, it did nothing. Strange. There should be plenty of space left on the drive so why can't I save it? Very Strange. I then clicked on the CD-R icon, the two DMG files are there. I happened to look at the bottom of the Finder and it read “0 Kbytes Free”. WTF?!?!?!?!??! There are only two @#%@$^! files on that CD-R; the only way that CD-R could be full is if MACOSX closed the write-session when I wrote those 2 files. I searched MacHelp for "burn multi-session CD" and indeed, the default is to write single session CDs. Why? What is the logic behind this default? It's a 800MB device FFS, does it really make sense to permit ONLY 20 MB to be written to the disc?!?!??!?!

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

I know a maiden fair to see,
Take care!        
She can both false and friendly be,
Beware! Beware!        
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee.        
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
“From the German (In Hyperion)”

One of the most complicated things to do on a Unix system today (GNU/Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD) is to write a multi-session CD (this is slowly improving with Gnome and KDE desktops). The problem is that there isn't an uniform method to write to removable media under Unix. The "everything is a file" paradigm should actually be "everything is a file up to a point". The Unix command to copy a file is, "cp fileA fileB"; if I want to copy a file to a floppy, I use "mcopy fileA a:fileB" ("A:"— that's just HILARIOUS!)— Next, if I want to copy a file to a CD-R, first I have to copy the file into a temporary directory and make an ISO image, "mkisofs -o fileB.iso -r -l -pad -R -J isodir/", then to burn the ISO image I have to run, "cdrecord -dev=5,0 -speed 2 -pad -data fileB.iso". And I cannot burn anymore files onto that CD-R because the write-session is closed. Alternatively, I can use a program called xcdroast which is basically a GUI to mkisofs and cdrecord.

Wouldn't it just be nicer to just be able to, "cp fileA /dev/floppy/FileB" (floppy) or "cp fileA /dev/cdr/fileB" (CD-R). I would be happy with "ccopy fileA d:fileB" which did whatever needed to be done in the background to get this file onto the CD-R and allowed me, at a later date to copy additional files to the CD-R.

According to MacHelp, if I want to make a multi-session CD-R, I have to make a temporary directory, copy the files I want into the dir, run a program called "Disk Utility" and use it make an ISO image of that dir and cut the ISO making sure to check-off, “Leave disc appendable. If you don't see this option, click the triangle in the top-right corner”. This procedure sounds vaguely familiar. Sigh.

Can you imagine having to run a separate program to copy files to a floppy disc? Then why should I have to do this to copy files to a CD-R disc? The Windows/XP CD-R experience is paradise compared to this antequated interface. I'm looking forward to the drag-and-drop interface to making multi-session CD-R in the Finder.

Jef Raskin, RIP

Jef Raskin, creator of the Apple MacIntosh, passed away on Feb. 26, 2005.


Mon Feb 28 09:00:13 2005

<davehunn> on #emacs pointed out iTerm and clutter.

Submitted Bug-reports

Mon Feb 28 14:31:34 2005

Dave suggested that I submit a bug-report to Apple about my CD-R woes. I have just done so: Problem ID 4027809, "CD-R/RW interface enhancement: default should be multi-session" and Problem ID 4027903, "Saving files to a CD-R is too Unix-like". I don't expect anything to come of this.

Dave also suggested BurnX Free, an utility that allows dragging and dropping of files and folders and clicking a 'Burn' icon. I have installed it and will try it out later.

Windows Sharing

The contents of my home-directory on mathilde, as seen on aleph via Samba.

Tue Mar 01 09:34:31 2005

It works! After patching to 10.3.8, aleph can now mount my home-directory on mathilde (it didn't work earlier). On the Windows side, click on "Add a network place" and follow the wizard. On the Mac side, go to System Prefs > Sharing and enable Windows Sharing; the bottom of the list-box will tell you what to type on the Windows side (\\\elf). After I connected, a login prompt appeared and I logged-in with my OSX login and password and voilá! The only problem now is that the DHCP lease expires periodically (update: the 169.254/16 prefix is for host auto-configuration valid for communication with other devices connected to the same physical or logical link— it's not assigned by DHCP), and I have to use a new IP number every time it does— it would be nice if I could use "\\mathilde\elf".

Zero Configuration / Rendezvous

Update, Tue Mar 01 14:13:46 2005:

David emailed me the following in response:

This can be done between two Macs through multicast DNS and service discovery; Windows does not yet support these protocols though it does have UPnP that supposedly does something similar. There is an EXE that you can download from Apple's Rendezvous site that may (!) be useful. There's some commerical software available as well (with free trial).

(Aside: It's a bit strange the the computer's name; i.e. hostname, is set via System Prefs > Sharing; someone on #macosx asked how to change the hostname and I couldn't remember where I did it. Alternatively, just edit /etc/hostconfig.)

Update, Fri Mar 18 18:56:41 2005: on Windows Rendezvous below.

For Future Reference

Tue Mar 01 12:59:13 2005

HandBrake is a GPL'd multi-platform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 ripper/converter. Info on developing Java apps on OSX.

<trhaynes> what is the right part of the dock called?
<trhaynes> where the specific instances of the program go?
<krunk-> the flock


the reason i bought a mac instead of a laptop with linux on it was that i was sick and tired of hardware setup problems. everytime i buy new hardware that is to be connected to my desktop, i spend a few days crying...
—<kensanata> on #macosx

Wed Mar 02 07:58:50 2005

Installed iTerm and it's better than Terminal: paging Up/Down is Fn+PgUp/PgDn in both emacs and the terminal shell (in Terminal it is Fn+Shift+Page-Up/Down in Emacs and alt+Page-Up/Down everywhere else.). It also understands xterm escape sequences and selecting text automatically copies the text (configurable). But it doesn't seem to support a Meta key (I tried Preferences > Profiles > Keyboard > vt100 panel and check-off Option sends Meta)— AARGH!.

Stumbled across Mac OS X for Oceanographers and Atmospheric Scientists whilst searching for a solution to the iTerm Meta-key problem. I will be installing uControl soon as I like his idea of mapping the Enter-key to the right of the space-bar, mapped to Fn so page-navigations can be done with one hand.

Update, Tue Mar 15 01:30:11 2005: I deleted iTerm until such time it works properly.

Update Sun Jul 03 12:02:54 2005: I have installed DoubleCommand and it works beautifully to re-bind your keys. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

MenuMeters and Tofu

Wed Mar 02 09:48:09 2005

Installed MenuMeters which displays cpu, disk and net stats in the menubar—looks really cool. Also installed Tofu (well thought-out and beautifully designed application— it also plugs-in to the OS X speech-synth and you can listen to Viki (most pleasant of the voices provided) read the text (think Project Gutenberg audio-books)); Viki knows to say "Mac OS 10" when she reads "Mac OS X".

I Don't Iconify

Thu Mar 03 00:08:06 2005

David emailed me another journal and one notable thing mentioned there struck me as odd— I don't iconify any apps in OS X and yet the desktop doesn't feel cluttered or messy and I hardly use Exposé. Under Windows XP, I can have at most 2 applications running and the desktop feels crowded. Is it the difference in resolutions (1152x768 v.s. 1024x768)? To test my theory, I dropped the OSX desktop to 1024x768 (stretched) and it still didn't feel crowded. Update, Thu Mar 03 13:13:34 2005: David pointed out that Tom Yager also noticed this mysterious "organized clutter" phenomenon.

For Future Reference

Thu Mar 03 09:56:28 2005

Growl, a global notification system and Colloquy, an advanced IRC & SILC client.

Thu Mar 03 13:06:50 2005

<e1f> how can i tell if x11 is installed?
<ResIpsa> e1f: there's an in your /Applications/Utilities/ folder or there isn't
<e1f> k
<Preston> That's for the Apple supplied X11 -- if you installed it thru Fink or something
 else it might be in a different place
<e1f> Preston: no, i don't have fink i'm getting X11User.dmg now... ~44Mboobies in size
<Preston> megaboobies?  Is that what pamela anderson has?
<e1f> Preston: no, she has megaboobs
<e1f> megaboobies are a unit of measurement for DMG downloads
<e1f> in canada at least. i don't know what the US conversion rate is
<ResIpsa> Canucks are wierd.

Changing File Associations

Fri Mar 04 09:59:35 2005

I wanted .rtf files (which seems to be the format of many README files for various applications) to be opened by Tofu and not the default TextEdit. So I typed-in "associate a file with a application" into the MacHelp query. Thirty seconds later (!) the most relevant item on the list that MacHelp returns, is "Connecting to an irDA device" (WTF!?) and the 11th item is "A document doesn't open with the application I selected". Hmmm. Anyway, the procedure is to select the document, then File > Get Info and then select "Open With" in the window that appears.


Fri Mar 04 23:46:50 2005

Installed Meteorologist, a program that queries and displays the weather and 5-day forecast in the menu-bar and the Dock.

Cyberduck and NeoOffice/J

Sun Mar 06 09:57:01 2005

I installed Cyberduck (GUI front-end to FTP and SFTP) last night and just finished installing and running NeoOffice/J which I tested by loading-up a spreadsheet I had created using StarOffice under Windows. Worked like a charm.

I just noticed that doesn't display extended characters like "·"; it just shows a "?". iTerm, on the other hand displays them properly (but, as mentioned earlier, is buggy with the meta-key. Looks like it's time to consider installing Emacs locally.

Sun Mar 06 22:53:07 2005

Looks like iTerm not sending Alt as Meta is a know bug; it was submitted on March 1. I hope they fix it soon as I want to switch to iTerm from Terminal.

<e1f> can i change the icon of a folder in the finder?
<l008com> get info, click on icon, copy and paste
<e1f> cool i'll try that
<macGuy> thanks l008com
<l008com> e1f then check out
<e1f> what program can i use to make my own icons?
<l008com> photoshop
<phroggy> GraphicConverter,
<e1f> are they a special format? or anything is fine
<l008com> well technically you can paste anything into one
<l008com> but if you wanna get real specific, use something like Iconographer
<phroggy> the Finder will convert the format when you paste.
<phroggy> I'd suggest a 128x128 TIFF.
<e1f> k

Intel Emulators

Mon Mar 07 18:58:08 2005

Jason asked me about Intel emulators for the PowerPC chip. Most of the available emulators are software only; i.e. no support for hardware devices. The general consensus on #macosx is that QEmu is the best free one of the lot and for virtualized hardware, the best and only one is VirtualPC from Microsoft.


A quote from Text System Defaults and Key Bindings:

The text system uses a generalized key binding mechanism which is completely re-mappable by the user. The standard bindings can always be found in:
"/System/Library/Frameworks/ AppKit.framework/Resources/StandardKeyBinding.dict".
These standard bindings include a large number of Emacs-compatible control key bindings, all the various arrow key bindings, bindings for making field editors and some keyboard UI work, and backstop bindings for many function keys. All these bindings are customizable by the user. You can create a file in " ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict" to augment or replace the standard bindings.


Tue Mar 08 01:18:18 2005

I have switched to Firefox 1.0.1 (remove Safari from the dock by dragging it to the desktop and letting go— Pouf!). Firefox is a work of staggering genius when compared to Safari, the oh-so-less-than-minimalist web-browser. After you've used Firefox on any platform, there is no going back.

Minor bug: when importing bookmarks (via drag-n-drop) from the Safari bookmark manager to the Firefox bookmark manager, folders don't transfer properly requiring one to individually drag the bookmarks in a folder to the corresponding folder in Firefox.

I just accidently (!) discovered that if you drag two fingers horizontally across the track-pad, you can navigate backwards and forwards through the history. Simultaneously total coolness and utter annoyance.

Update, Fri Mar 11 15:13:30 2005: To make Firefox the default browser, run Safari and choose "Firefox" from the Preferences.

Update, Sat Apr 16 10:15:32 2005: there is a fix, below, for the annoying horiz-scroll.

For Future Reference

Tue Mar 08 13:52:40 2005

Pacifist is a shareware application that permits the installation of individual files and folders contained in Mac OS X .pkg files. This is useful if a default application becomes corrupted and needs to be reinstalled and you don't feel the need to reinstall the whole OS.

Is OS X Enterprise Ready?

Wed Mar 09 00:17:42 2005

David dropped-by yesterday to deliver a pair of Shure E3c noise-isolation headphones I had asked him to buy for me (the only store that sells them is closer to where he works). During our conservation, he asked me whether I would consider replacing my Windows/XP workstation (2 GHz P4 with 512MB RAM, 80GB disk, 128MB nVidia video and 21in. Sony Trinitron monitor) at work with an OSX workstation.

My desktop consists of about a dozen terminal windows (WinSSH client), where I am ssh'd over to various servers, one large terminal running Emacs (where I read my email and irc) and 2 Mozilla windows (with many tabs in each window). In my particular case, OSX is not an option because has serious shortcomings in capabilities (Apple can get away with shipping such a craptacular application because most Mac users would never, ever use it) and iTerm, a much worthy replacement, is somewhat buggy (especially, the Meta-key bug). At this time, for me at least, OS X is not "Enterprise ready"— it is not a mature enough product that can be deployed in mission-critical applications.

Update Mon Apr 25 00:13:11 2005: See below for complaints about OS X and X Window System interoperability.

Linus Switches to Mac

Wed Mar 09 09:28:50 2005

Though he's not running OS X, Linus Torvalds is now using a Mac (dual 2GHz G5) as his desktop. I wonder who sent him the free computer. Hmmm...

Comprehensive List of Keyboard Shortcuts

Wed Mar 09 13:04:17 2005

All the known keyboard shortcuts for OS X.

<e1f> on this page:,00.html which key 
      means "show all startup disks"
<e1f> is that alt/option? or is it ctrl?
<ResIpsa> That's option
<ResIpsa> =)
<e1f> what does that symbol mean?
<e1f> it's a slash with a tic-- how does that nemonically mean option?
<ResIpsa> I think that it's a fork in a road.
<ResIpsa> personally.
<e1f> ok, i accept that explanation :D
<encro> it reminds me of a switch on a railroad track
<RichardP> e1f: its a microswitch icon
<e1f> electrical symbol?
<RichardP> the current has an option of which path :)
<RichardP> ya
<ResIpsa> That's an interesting bit of trivia.

For Future Reference

Wed Mar 09 18:59:04 2005

Platypus, for creating application wrappers around scripts so e.g. you can call a script from the dock.

Busy With Work

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy all work and no play makes jack a dull boy all work and no play makes jack a dull boy all work and no play makes ...

Thu Mar 10 00:59:27 2005

Got bogged-down with Work— that wonderful creature that affords me cool toys and denies me the time to play with them. So for the dedicated readers of this Journal, let me just point to a local Mac Mini Journal by Jonathan Chan, a graduate student in Computer Engineering, who is having an entertaining adventure of his own.

Batteries Are Included

Fri Mar 11 01:18:21 2005

Everything you wanted to know about your Li-ion batteries for your PowerBook or iPod. Remember to cycle your PowerBook batteries at least once a month.

X11 and Gimp

Fri Mar 11 12:16:48 2005

Installed X11 (from Apple) and Gimp. After installing Gimp (GPL Photoshop clone), I double-clicked the icon in the Finder and nothing happened (even though the Gimp icon appeared in the Dock). So I opened-up an iTerm, cd'd into the Gimp application directory, set the DISPLAY, ran "Gimp" and got some errors in the console. Hm. Then I remembered that David had told me about the "open" command. I typed "open gimp" and a new Terminal window opened and the Gimp welcome-window appeared and I proceeded to setup Gimp.


Sat Mar 12 01:15:36 2005

Amit Singh wrote this really cool toy that interfaces to the Sudden Motion Sensor (a.k.a. Apple Motion Sensor (AMS)) and graphically displays the 3D orientation of the PowerBook in realtime. So if you have a PowerBook with SMS, get the AMSVisualiser utility and tilt & whirl away.

DevBugs Response

I actually received an email reply from DevBugs about my earlier bug-report on the CD-R experience being too unix-like. They suggested that I could just drag and drop files in the Finder. I clarified my response by emphasizing that it was the multi-session CD-R experience which was too unix-like.

Meta-Key In Xterm

Sat Mar 12 02:55:58 2005

The meta-key (Apple/Cmd) works properly in xterm after the last check-box under X11 > Preferences:Input, "Enable key-equivalents under X11" is unchecked. So I think I will use xterm as my default terminal.

Top-10 Mac OS X Tips for Unix Geeks

Sun Mar 13 10:44:15 2005

Top-10 Mac OS X Tips is just one of the many old (but still relevant) O'Reilly Mac DevCenter articles. The dates on some of the articles show how long OS X has been around for, while I've only had it in my hands for a mere 3 weeks— I have a lot of catching-up to do.

The Competition: Sony FS550

I can dream, can't I?

Mon Mar 14 00:10:37 2005

The just-released Sony FS550 is another beautiful piece of Sony engineering. Superficially, it looks like it's designed to compete with the PowerBook 17. Oh, how I wish for a Sony Vaio running OS X.

The Gimp: Ever the Irritant

Just playing with the Gimp (latest version) to see whether the interface improvements are worthy. I loaded-up a Photoshop .PSD file (Gimp reads PSD files) and tried editing some text that was already there. I just couldn't figure out how— Gimp just kept creating a new layer; I spent about 2 minutes trying out various things before giving up. In Photoshop (Elements) you just click on the text and edit away. It's little things like these that irritate me about Gimp. But that's what you get from a product written by programmers who never actually use the product to do real work.

More Xterm Meta-key Woes; Goodbye iTerm

Mon Mar 14 19:42:30 2005

The Meta-key (Apple/Cmd) stops working if you ssh to another host via xterm. Instead of meta, it prints "ř". Sigh. In other news, I've deleted iTerm. Good riddance until the bugs are fixed.

Update: Fixed below.

Graphing Calculator

Tue Mar 15 01:23:03 2005

Downloaded and played with the Graphing Calculator for OS X— another cool geek toy that graphs 2D and 3D plots. My PowerBook benchmarked at 114.5 GCMarks.

I Say

Tue Mar 15 02:03:11 2005

You can use the "say" command to do text to speech in a Terminal ("man say" for details). It reads from a file or from stdin and speaks in the default voice (chosen via System Prefs > Speech); you can choose a different voice with the -v option. I'm certain my 3 year-old nephew will love playing with this.

New Mouse

Watching “The Incredibles” with the PowerBook sitting on the Bose Wave Music system, which played-back the audio.

Wed Mar 16 01:02:59 2005

Yesterday, on my way to work, I stopped-by Sunrise Records and picked-up “The Incredibles” and “Raging Bull 25th Anniversary Edition”. Then I stopped by Future Shop, which is just across the street, and picked up the VERY LAST Microsoft Optical mouse in stock and on sale for $14.99. It's black and looks very cool next to mathilde; the white version, which I picked-up 2 years ago for about $30, is plugged-in to aleph.

After I got home from work, I plugged mathilde's headphone output into the AUX jack of the Bose Wave Music System and watched “The Incredibles” while having dinner.

“The Incredibles” Mini-review

Wed Mar 16 13:07:00 2005

This is a mediocre movie that would rate 2.5 out of 5.0 stars. It is more of a technology showcase for the Pixar renderers and shaders and less of a plot-oriented movie. It does have its moments (amazing rendering of misty forests and a couple of forgettable jokes) but lacks overall entertainment value. After a single viewing, I wasn't compelled to watch it again. In comparison, “Monsters Inc.” is far more entertaining. The Extras DVD is also mediocre; half-hour of the deleted scenes, with the director (and some other guy sitting next to him and nodding) blabbing on about them, are actually static pre-production animatics rather than fully rendered scenes that were edited not shown. The behind-the-scenes footage gives more depth to the production and the people involved.

Meta-key Now Works in Xterm Through SSH

Thu Mar 17 01:12:31 2005

Run the following in an xterm: xmodmap -e "keysym Meta_L = Escape Meta_L" and Apple/Cmd should do the right thing in an ssh'd emacs session (I used "xev" to figure-out the key-names).

Bug ID# 4055945

Thu Mar 17 09:26:46 2005

Summary: The trackpad does not respond to input after waking a Powerbook from a sleep with a paused DVD in the drive (playing full-screen before the lid was closed).
Steps to Reproduce:
  1. Inserted DVD 2 of "The Incredibles" (DVD player runs full-screen)
  2. Watched the "Making of ..." feature
  3. Paused the DVD with space-bar
  4. Closed the lid (Powerbook goes to sleep)
  5. 8 hours later, opened the lid
  6. Pressed space-bar (DVD continued playing but the mouse pointer was stuck on the screen and didn't move when the trackpad was rubbed)
Expected Results:
Mouse-pointer should have faded into nothingness (as it usually does) after a brief peroid of inactivity, while watching the DVD and I should have been able to move the pointer when I rubbed the trackpad.
Actual Results:
Track-pad had no effect on the mouse pointer.
I pressed Cmd-0 to switch from full-screen to windowed and tried the track-pad-- it didn't move the pointer. I pressed the track-pad button and then the mouse-pointer responded. I pressed Cmd-0 to return to full-screen and continued watching.

For Future Reference

A jab at the iPod.

Thu Mar 17 15:02:24 2005

Open source Web-Cam support.

Eating Apples

Thu Mar 17 16:03:42 2005

A story on had a flash advert for iRiver showing a man wearing the latest mp3 player and eating an apple. Hmmmmmm. Coincidence, subliminal advertising or subtle jab?

Continued in Part 2...

luis fernandes / G4 PowerBook Journal, Part 1