Results tagged “MacOS X” from Bill's Words

Xserve is long dead.

Mac OS X Server is an app, not a standalone product anymore, and is a shadow of its former self.

So it would not surprise me if this announcement is the first step towards a partnership which could supply both iOS and Mac OS-friendly “big iron” server technologies for enterprise, an area which Apple clearly has no interest in pursuing.

Apple WWDC 2014: 9+1=Yosemite


And with one fell swoop, we know that Mac OS X 10.9’s successor is not Mac OS X 10.something, but is Mac OS X Yosemite.

(Or so I think. Other websites are reporting it as 10.10, though I haven’t heard that mentioned yet.)

OK, I’m wrong. 10.10 is mentioned in this press release, in a footnote.

Two iOS 7 Observations


I’m sort of surprised nobody has made these observations (that I can find, anyway).

First, did you notice that all of the so-called “flat” interface elements are ridiculously easy to draw with vector graphics? As I’ve stated before, the various flavors of Apple OS are going to be resolution independent someday. The departure from textures and bitmapped elements will make this transition much easier, and the sweeping hands on the iOS Clock app icon is a pretty good example of a traditionally-bitmapped element which has become all or nearly all vector graphics.

Second, when you’re composing an E-mail, Mail app on iOS 7 does a pretty good job at guessing which account the message should be sent from. Let’s say you have two E-mail accounts, “” and “” and that your default “from” address is “”. When you start writing a message, the “from” field will show “”, as it should. But then when you put in a recipient, such as “”, iOS 7 will change the “from” account to the “” address. This feature would have saved me and my co-workers much confusion as I have been known to send them E-mails from my personal account when I meant to send them from my work account.

That’s all for now.

Hi, Mac user. Do you work in a Windows environment and get links from your colleagues in documents, mail messages, etc.? Here’s a convenient tool which helps with that problem.

It’s called WinShortcutter and it’s free.

The Background

Our family shares an iMac and an iTunes library using one family user account. We use this account to sync all of our iDevices with music, apps and photos. Members of the family have individual accounts, and none of these accounts has access to the shared iTunes library, and that’s the way we want it.

I wanted each user to be able to access and edit the Aperture 3 library so that we each could drop E-mailed pictures into it (directly from Mail), edit pictures and share photos via E-mail (directly from Aperture). The “obvious” (but incomplete) solution is to move the family’s Aperture library from our shared account to the /Users/Shared folder and hold down option while launching Aperture to point to the Aperture library in the Shared folder.

Aperture gripes about the relocated library because the library has the file permissions (owner, etc.) of the shared account, and each user can’t do anything to it. Solutions tried by others include using Finder to add permissions for each user (via Get Info), changing group permissions (also via Get Info), and various command line incantations, none of which purport to be 100% successful, and none of which worked for me. The only solution which works, according to a long search of the Intarwebs, is to attach a second drive (or create a partition) and tell the Mac OS to ignore permissions on that drive. Without a second drive and without enough room to create a large enough partition, this option was out for me. Only in one place did I find somebody who claimed to have performed some command line fu which did the equivalent of ignoring permissions.

But that was enough for me to venture down into the depths of ACLs (Access Control Lists) to make this work.

The Warnings

Note that although I have tested the solution on my own Mac, I do not guarantee that it will work for you. You should… no, that’s not strong enough. You must backup your Aperture library before trying any of these instructions.

Even though the result of these instructions should be a shared Aperture library, only one user may access the library at a time, and Aperture 3 will gripe if more than one user tries to access it simultaneously.

Finally, if any of this makes you uncomfortable and you are uncomfortable with the steps below, don’t try them and just live with an unshared library. Hopefully, Apple will do something about library sharing in the future, and you probably can deal with the inconvenience until then.

The Solution

Step 1: Close Aperture.

Step 2: Move the shared Aperture library to the /Users/Shared folder, as you might expect. Any of the users can provide the source library as far as I am aware.

Step 3: Open Terminal and change directories to /Users/Shared.

Step 4: Execute the following command line fu for each user who is to share the Aperture library.

sudo chmod -R +a "user:username* allow list,add_file,search,add_subdirectory,delete_child,readattr,writeattr,readextattr,writeextattr,readsecurity,file_inherit,directory_inherit" Aperture\ Library.aplibrary

substituting the appropriate short username in for username above, and of course it’s all one line. (Spaces are not allowed in the ACL either, by the way.)

Step 5: Test the installation by opening the library (hold down option when you start Aperture to select the newly-shared library) in each user’s account. I tested the installation by adding a photo from each user’s account, making sure all other users could see and edit the photo, and ensuring that all other users could see the resulting changes.

Step 6: Put an alias to the shared library into each user’s Pictures folder so that iTunes will know where to look for the shared library. iTunes seems to be able to follow the alias nicely.

That worked for me and, as the saying goes, your mileage may vary, so please let me know if you have anything to add or encounter problems. Please don’t hesitate to contact me using the contact E-mail address buried over there under “Who is this Bill guy, anyway?”

We’ve been “paperless” around this house for several years, whereby I define “paperless” as “It’s been scanned and is sitting on a drive somewhere, but God only knows what’s where.” I’ve been relying on Spotlight to find what I need, and that works pretty well. But it’s not future proof.

If only my files were more organized…

In this article, Shawn Blanc outlines how he does the paperless thing, and he uses Hazel—which is the missing link to file organization.

After five minutes of using it, I plunked down my $25 and bought it. It’s that good.

Apple's Been Busy


The developer preview of Mac OS X Lion (version 10.7’s big-cat name), to which I do not have access, includes the amazing installation option to install Mac OS X Server. What once was a $1000 (since dropped to $500) standalone product will most likely be included in the standard-issue Mac OS X package. You know, the one that costs about $99 to buy. Amazing.

While others (via have doubted that this is really the case, I’m going to go on record as saying it’s not only true, but will also guess as to why.

Let’s gather some dots and then connect them, shall we?

First, Apple has all but eliminated its line of server products. Other than the dedicated Mac mini Server, there are no more server-specific hardware products to be had. The Mac Pro Server is essentially the same box as the regular Mac Pro, after all. XServe is dead. XServe RAID is dead, too. With no serious computing iron to offer, a server room is going to be devoid of Apple products. There’s food for thought…

Second, Apple is building a huge data center with lots of serious serving power for the iTunes store. They also know a lot about how to serve data between computers using MobileMe. To me, that adds up to a lot of learned-by-experience knowledge about something called cloud computing, where the data are not necessarily in one particular place but are all over the place. As long as you don’t see any difference between having the data locally vs. in “the cloud,” it shouldn’t make any difference.

Third, Apple has some intellectual property brewing around cloud computing. Googling “Apple patent cloud computing” yields a pretty satisfying list of things to look at. Apple has its head in the cloud, quite literally.

Fourth, rumor has it that Apple is going to introduce a plan targeted at small businesses which will supply faster turnarounds and loaner machines for a very-reasonable $500 per year. Neat.

Fifth, Apple will be supplying Mac OS X Server technologies with every one of its desktop machines. Every one of them. Not just a few high-end machines. All of ‘em.

Finally, the cursor blinks at the same rate that it used to and I still type slowly, even though the processor power available to me, the user, has grown immensely. We may have gigaflops and terabytes on our desktops, but we still vastly underutilize them in a typical business setting.

Now let’s connect the dots.

(Oooo! That sorta’ looks like a unicorn!)

I think Apple is aiming to eliminate the server room entirely. Furthermore, I believe that with Server on every desk (and eventually I think at least some of it will be a default part of installation, mostly hidden), Apple will move the server room out to the front office. What once was one or more pieces of dedicated server hardware and software will be distributed across the machines in the workgroup or business. This approach makes use of Apple’s cloud technologies and will utilize all of that unused—but already bought!—computing power that we have on each user’s desk.

When? It won’t happen instantly, or even soon. No, I’ll peg the release date for this massive shift in computing to the release of version 11 of Mac OS X—what’s that, two, three years? It’ll take a big shift in mindset of Apple’s customers to accept this kind of radical change in how we think of “servers.” Also, the technology has to catch up with the plan, such as the need to implement some sort of new underlying file system which is certainly a prerequisite for this kind of thing (ZFS, anyone?). All of this will require some positive track record, presumably which Apple’s starting right now with OS X Lion.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here. Think about the advantages to both the users and how I think Apple sees things, and it makes good business sense for Apple as well as a good user experience.

For one, there’s no need to buy super-powerful hardware to do server stuff, especially if you have spare gigabytes and gigaflops sitting around idle. Why buy redundant capacity? Not buying more computers saves the business some money, and narrows Apple’s product line significantly. That’s good for both us and for Apple.

By getting rid of the server room, we users save money and space and possibly the time or expense of a dedicated system administrator. Why not administer the whole thing yourself? Or perhaps just hire an Apple-certified Consultant on an as-needed basis and pay the minimal fee per year to get your business-essential hardware replaced/repaired quickly? That sounds remarkably inexpensive to me. That’s another good deal for Apple, its consultant network, and us users, too.

If you are going to buy into this cloud server thing, presumably you’re somewhat locked into the Apple ecosystem. That benefits Apple, certainly, but it could also be perceived as a benefit to the consumer like the tight integration of iPod/iPhone/iPad and iTunes has proven beneficial to the user experience.

And what if that big data center in North Carolina were to sprout a twin? Could that become a backup for your business data cloud? Short answer: yeah. Can you say subscription model?

As a final thought, I don’t believe that Apple has any interest in big business with this initiative. As we’re often told these days, the heartbeat of America is the country’s small businesses (sorry, Chevy) and that’s a huge market. Maybe this will be trickle-up technology, but I doubt it: the Microsoft juggernaut has that one wrapped up for the foreseeable future, and I think the sysadmin community (which certainly “knows this can’t possibly work”) will be extremely resistant to the decentralized server model, at least one that is this decentralized. Who knows? It may not work on the big business scale. But I think… well, never mind. You can guess what I think.

I’m sure that I’m missing a few benefits and a few points which suggest that Apple really is headed this direction.

And I might be completely and totally wrong.

But, Oh! How I don’t want to be wrong… It’s just too cool an idea for it not to be real.

(Sorry I’ve turned comments off for the time being. Stupid spammers thought I needed to see their crap on my blog, so until I get hooked up with Disqus, things will be quiet. Let me know via E-mail—contact info over there on the left under “Pages”—and I’ll post your comments as part of my original posts.)

John Gruber and I have briefly conversed about what the resolution of an upgraded-resolution iPad will be. He firmly believes it will be 2x the current resolution because it’s just easier. (True, it is.) But I believe that some future revision of the iPad will have a higher-resolution display which is not a fixed integer multiple of the current resolution for reasons I’ve outlined previously. Two more things make me think I’m right.

First, Apple itself. With 10.4 and 10.5, resolution independence was introduced in phases and was “developer only.” (Via 10.6 was supposed to be more resolution-independent than the previous two releases, but… alas, not so much. That’s bad.

Or… is it? Wouldn’t it be a convenient alignment of things if iOS 5 and Mac OS X 10.7 introduced resolution independence about the same time? They share the same rendering engines, after all, and many other parts of their architecture. If both OSs introduced the last bits of making their interfaces resolution independent, it would make good use of resources in the company. Not that Apple has to think frugally, but if they’re trying to converge the two platforms somehow…

I’m just sayin’.

Second, WebOS Enyo apparently does some resolution independent jiggery-pokery according to this Engadget note. Not that I understand exactly what this means, because I am not about to plunge into the WebOS SDK documentation, but they are making a concerted effort to attract developers by allowing devs to write once for multiple target resolutions. That’s powerful stuff.

Now, Apple does not promote that devs should write once for iPad and iPhone/iPod (because the interfaces themselves should really be tailored to the different screen sizes), though it does work. Instead, Apple would likely try the same approach as HP and promote resolution independence as the bridge between future higher-resolution devices and the past’s lower-resolution devices. WebOS is ahead of both Mac OS and iOS here—there’s some real competition, finally.

So that’s it. I further stick my neck out on the subject of the iPad X’s resolution.

I sure hope I’m right…

Until recently, I didn’t fit into the former category but landed squarely in the latter. As an avid Mac user, I do have a fear of losing my sight. But this article by Matt Gemmell gave me a new perspective.

The bit that did it for me:

When you first enable VoiceOver on a Mac, you’re asked if you’d like to take a brief tutorial; I did. After the first couple of minutes, I closed my eyes, and really used it. I wept.

Yes, it will be different. But all is not lost.

And now, as an iOS developer (or at least a student developer, anyway), this article provided a significant insight into the realities of the assistive technologies of Mac OS and iOS.

I will read and heed.

Go read it, no matter which category you’re in.

[Via I swear, it must be incredible to be paid to surf the web and produce the occasional highly-insightful article as John Gruber is.]

If you use an app that is critical to your ability to conduct business, should you use the Mac App Store to buy that app?

Though the support article here says:

Apps you purchase and install from Mac App Store can also be copied to an external hard drive, USB Flash Drive, CD/DVD, or backed up via Time Machine. 

…it also says this:

…you can use Mac App Store to reinstall the app (if it’s still available) without incurring additional charges to your account.

It also says this:

If you save a copy of an app to removable media (such as an external hard drive) or file share, simply drag the app back from its storage location to your Applications folder. When you open the restored app for the first time, you may be required to sign in with the Apple ID account that was used to purchase the app.

(All emphasis is mine.)

Two very important questions arise:

What if your business-critical data requires an app which suddenly becomes not available and your favorite computer illiterate user accidentally deletes the app? Apps have been known to disappear overnight for terms and conditions violations, so this is not an unrealistic possibility.

The second is, What if you are unable to “sign in with the Apple ID account…” for some reason? Here are some scenarios that would lead to that problem:

  1. Your business got struck by lightning. Sure, your data are all backed up on an external drive in your trunk at your house, but, alas, your Keychain or 1Password file on your Mac which faithfully stores all your passwords—including the one you can’t remember to the Apple ID account—is fried.
  2. Your cable modem got struck by lightning and took out the computer. You remember the Apple ID and password, but can’t connect to the Internet until some future time that the technician can bring you a new cable modem.
  3. You have access to the Internet via iPhone tethering, so you have access to the Mac App store, but since you have to restore from the original 10.6.0 DVD, you have hundreds of megabytes to download and install. That’s slow, but certainly not insurmountable unless, of course, you are stuck in marginal 3G territory and connections are iffy at best—good enough to sign in, but not good enough for hundreds of megabytes of updates.

Possibility 2 assumes that reauthorizing the app requires an online transaction. It may not—I do not know. Does anybody know definitively?

There are certainly some production apps which require online authorization to work, most notably the Adobe Creative Suite, so this is not a problem unique to the Mac App Store. However, Adobe most likely can help you out if you are in a jam. I doubt that most Mac App Store publishers are set up to handle something like that (such as shipping you an unlocked copy of the app via FedEx or 56K dialup modem or who knows what).

Granted, it doesn’t look like there are a lot of mission-critical apps in the Mac App Store—at least in the charts, anyway. But I’d be very hesitant to buy mission-critical apps from the Mac App Store until two things occur:

  1. The activation/reactivation process is well-understood and the limitations and workarounds are known.
  2. The backup process is clearly defined in such a way so as to not be reliant on any activation process at all.

Other than that? I already love the Mac App Store. I can see that I will be much more likely to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase impulse buys than ever before—and, in fact, already have. Instant gratification is instant and seamless—no unstuffing disk images and mounting them and agreeing to licenses and… Prices are much more dynamic because sales will happen more frequently. And the interface is just as slick and easy to use as the iOS App Store.

Oh yeah, Apple has a good thing going on with the Mac App Store. No doubt about it.

But I’d think long and hard about buying CS5 from it.

Unless you’re behind a corporate firewall that restricts access to iTunes because the App Store uses the iTunes infrastructure to run.

Here’s what you’ll see instead:

App Store Fail.jpg

I have a love/hate relationship with Retrospect. At times, it is a godsend. At others, I pull my hair out by its roots because it is annoying or buggy or something.

This time, I ran into this message in the log:

!Can't read state information, error -557 ( transaction already complete)

Seriously, EMC, that’s the best you can do? When I write error messages into my programs (and, yes, I do program every now and then), I try to use the following guidelines:

  1. I use English, not Tech. What’s “state information?” And what might a “transaction” be? If the Retrospect manual doesn’t use these terms, then neither should the error message.
  2. I interpret the Tech into English where it’s important to use the Tech.
  3. I provide as much information about the error as possible. Here, “client state” would help a bunch as it would let me know that it isn’t my backup server’s state that is a problem.
  4. I provide suggestions to the user as to what might be causing the problem. If, for example, the above message were caused by, say, a network error, I’d report that a network error may have prevented the state from being read.

It turns out that the error is, in this case, caused by screwed-up client. Merely stopping and starting the Retrospect Client with the “On/Off” radio buttons won’t fix it, though. Instead, you have to kill off the retroclient process. Don’t even think of messing with /Library/Preferences/retroclient.state. You will have much heartache if you do. And sometimes it’s just darned inconvenient to restart the client, so killing the retroclient process is a good first step towards fixing this problem.

Want to kill your retroclient process? Here’s how.

Open the Retrospect Client app and turn Retrospect off with the radio button. Then quit the Retrospect Client app.

In Terminal, as an administrative user:

$ ps -ax | grep retro

which will return something like

8962 ??         0:13.91 /Applications/Retrospect
9722 ttys001    0:00.00 grep retro

Note the process ID at the start of the retroclient line, 8962. Yours will almost certainly be different, so do the following, but substitute in your own process ID.

$ sudo kill 8962
Password: (enter your administrative password here)

That should kill retroclient. If you repeat the ps -ax | grep retro bit, you should only see grep retro returned.

Now go restart the client with the Retrospect Client application, execute the backup script that failed, and watch with fingers crossed.

If this fails? I got notin’. Sorry. And neither does Google, so you’re on your own…

Good luck!

The announcement of a new Calendar service in had me somewhat excited. I could, finally, sync a calendar among multiple family members with editing privileges for all. Yay!

But when I attempted to upgrade my Calendar service, I ran into this message:

Entourage Sync Problem.jpg

Has anybody run into this, too? And what’s it mean? And is there a workaround? Is Office 2011 going to solve all our woes (in spite of its crappy ribbon interface)?

Comments are on!

Am I the only one who sees it? No, I’m sure I’m not, because it’s as plain as day. What the hell is Adobe thinking?

They already have a captive audience in people who own and use their Creative Suite. All they have to do is make it the best damned HTML5 development tool there is and they’re in like Flynn. What if it could just pump out HTML5 instead of Flash with a checkbox? Same tool, same lock-in, same developer community familiar with their tools. And, oh-by-the-way, nobody said that making Flash-like things with HTML5 is easy, au contraire. So if they do it and do it right, they will gain those customers who refuse to use Flash but find developing in HTML5 to be hard.

They should shut up, quit whining about the death of Flash (whether it is dead or not) and move on to creating the first pro-quality HTML5 tool to market instead of an also-ran. And they’d be right back in the game.

Yeah, it costs money to do that. But… hear me out.

All of the browsers in the world now support or will support HTML5 and all the goodies therein—not just the desktop browsers, not just the mobile browsers. All of the browsers.

Some of the browsers in the world will not support Flash, and never will. Never. Never. Never. Period.

So, funny thing: if asked whether I would develop a creative tool which has as its potential audience all browsers or just some browsers, which do you think I’d put my time and money into?

Flash is dead, but long live Fl.

As a footnote, I tried to find out what the name, or names, of the Adobe Flash-generating products are called. After five minutes, I gave up. Too many SPODs, too much crap, not enough information. The Adobe website is a clear example of the technology’s getting in the way of the content.

(inspired by Daring Fireball Linked List: Jeff Croft on Adobe’s Android Flash Demo at FlashCamp Seattle.)

In record time: eight days. Article here.

I predict Apple will do one of two things: two WWDC’s per year, one for Mac OS and one for iPhone OS, or (more likely), one WWDC per year with alternating Mac OS and iPhone OS content. There will be some items in each for both platforms, but really, Apple has set itself up nicely for a major delivery per platform every two years.

Until Apple jumps into another market, or until there’s a major shift in the content/capabilities of either OS, I don’t think we’ll see the rapid pace of development that requires annual developer conferences as we have in the past.

I’ve been having wicked-bad performance problems with VMWare Fusion 3.0—the frustrating, I-want-to-hurl-it-through-the-Windows kind of performance problems. Turns out it’s a combination of v3.0 of Fusion and AVG Free 9.0

Since we changed antivirus protection types from a site license to a pay-per-copy license, I had to change to a free antivirus checker, and chose AVG Free 9.0. After that, performance went downhill. Windows would crawl along (refreshes were slow, sometimes not occurring at all), usually after resuming a VM, one core would jump to 100% usage, and Windows thought life was hunky dory because it shows 0% CPU usage. I.e., Fusion was working very hard, even though Windows was not. Weird.

Turns out, it’s a known problem with v3.0 of Fusion and AVG Free 9.0, and if I’d bothered to read the release notes, I’d have never chosen AVG Free. After uninstalling AVG Free and installing avast! antivirus, which got good reviews from reputable sources, the problem has gone away.

Hope that helps someone…

Amazing. Courtesy of Gruber at, I just signed up for the beta of HTML5 video playback on YouTube. You can, too. Just click here. Don’t be afraid, “beta” is not as bad as it sounds. It’s just a Google codeword for… for… well, nobody’s really sure.

Is it worth clicking through to sign up for this beta? If you use Safari or Chrome on a Mac, the answer is not just Yes, but rather Heck, yeah! I just watched a short video with this new playback method and my laptop barely broke a sweat. Watching a YouTube video with Adobe Flash causes my laptop to break out in tears begging for mercy, for me to put an end to it before it self-imolates under the strain of the bloated framework that is Flash.

If there were any better proof that Apple was wise in its decision not to allow Frickin’-Flash on its iPhone platform, I have yet to see it.

(I also use ClickToFlash as a preventative measure. It makes web surfing so much more palatable, and my laptop loves me for it.)

Is the option to keep the most recent version of a file new in the MobileMe preferences (shown below)? Or have I not noticed it before?

Screen shot 2009-08-31 at 8.30.25 PM.jpg