posts tagged with the keyword ‘osx’


MacBook Pro

The phrase “I am no longer Apple’s Target Market” is one that I can identify with… and the blog post of the same name makes a lot of good points.

I’ve been using computers (mostly made by Apple) for over 30 years. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon at this point, but I actually like being able to see the file system, and I don’t want or need some specially curated “App Store” or procedures to protect me from naughty applications I download from the big, bad Internet. I’ve been doing fine for nearly 20 years. As for people who do need such things, I understand the need, but I hope I’m not further restricted due to others and their (lack of) knowledge.

I’ve said this before, and I’ve said it again, there’s a learning curve to using computers, and I’m fine with that. There’s a learning curve to operating a motor vehicle, or a table saw, or a pencil sharpener. There should be. That’s part of life. Learning should not be looked upon as something that is a bad thing, and hey, I’m sorry, but you might have to actually learn a bit to use a computer, or table saw, or kitchen appliance. I’m not saying some things don’t need to be easier, but there’s a middle ground between ease of use, and restrictions of freedoms we once had. And easier? Hell, it’s a million times easier that it once was. Why, when I was a kid you turned on your Apple II and got a blinking cursor. No icons. No menus.

I use Apple hardware, and I use a lot of Apple software (and a lot more non-Apple software.) I also use Linux a lot. Linux has never been my desktop OS of choice, but for servers I love it. I do run some Linux desktop machines though, and they’ve improved much over the years. The work I do though, does at this time require Mac OS X.

I have a first generation iPad. I love it. It’s a great device for what it is. It is not a computer. Sometimes I wish it was a computer, but I find it very enjoyable to use as it is. I wish it were more open though. (But I wish that about a lot of things.)

Mac OS X is still my favorite desktop operating system. Is it perfect? Nope. Has it gotten better or worse over the years? Probably both. I’ve always got a terminal open with multiple tabs, which is something 95% (?) or Mac users probably don’t do.

Anyway, it’s December 2012, and I’m still using Macs (a lot) for business and personal use, and most of the time, they work well for me. I’ll let you know where I’m at some time in 2013.


Windows 7

Since there will be a point in the future when I upgrade all my Macs to Lion, I figured I should start getting ready, and in order to get ready, I usually need to upgrade my virtualization software. I use VMWare Fusion as well as Parallels Desktop on my Macs. My main use of Windows is for browser testing, though now that I spend time at the Milwaukee Makerspace I also use a few Windows-only applications like CamBam.

My VMs were all running Windows XP, so I figured that it was time to move up to Windows 7, and my old pal Larry Clarkin suggested that I’d like it much better than Windows XP. So in the interest of science (?) I figured I’d review Windows 7.

(Note: This review will be heavily biased against Windows, because I don’t like Windows.)

OK, here’s the deal: I don’t like Windows.

Windows is ugly.
Maybe the interface is customizable, maybe you can skin it, or theme it, or whatever, but I find the default user interface just plain ugly. I’m a Mac user, and I’ve gotten used to a good looking operating system. I’m a Linux user, but I tend to use the command line mostly, but even when I did use Linux on the desktop, it looked better than Windows.

Windows isn’t UNIX.
I mean, Linux isn’t UNIX, but it’s close. Mac OS X is UNIX, or at least it’s very close to being UNIX, depending on who you ask. Windows 7 isn’t UNIX, and I find that annoying. 90% of the time I’m using a Mac I’ve got iTerm running, and I either using it on the local machine, or ssh’d into another Mac or a Linux server.

Windows has little value to me.
As I said, my primary use of Windows has been for browser testing. Specifically, Internet Explorer testing. So pretty much the only reason I used Windows was to test 2 or 3 different versions of the worst browser out there, which, oddly enough, a lot of people used. (Luckily that’s changed.)

Now that I need to use Windows-only software like CamBam, I may end up using Windows 7 more than I used Windows XP, but it’s still just a matter of being forced to use Windows because there isn’t a Mac OS X version of a specific application. There is no joy in Mudville.

So ultimately, Windows 7 may be awesome if you’re a Windows user, but as a long time non-Windows user, it doesn’t entice me, and my primary use is in situations where I can’t use Mac OS X. But remember, this is just my opinion, and my point of view. I know dozens of people use Windows every day and tolerate it, and some even enjoy it. Kudos to them!



I know all the hep cats out there have the latest Intel MacBooks to write their Ruby code on, but you would do well to remember that there are still a lot of useful PowerPC-based PowerMacs out there, being used daily for general purpose computing. These machines were the powerhouses of yesteryear at many a creative agency, and a lot of them have big drives, plenty of RAM, and are still running. They get passed down to folks who aren’t running any heavy apps like Photoshop, InDesign, or Final Cut Pro.

And dammit, I want those people to be able to browse the web in a reasonably modern fashion.

TenFourFox may be the best option now that Firefox 4 is out and has abandoned the PowerPC architecture.

TenFourFox - PowerPC 4 Ever!

Here’s some words worth reading:

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our years of using Macs, it’s that they outlast anything else out there. Why shouldn’t an iBook be able to look at embarrassing pictures on Facebook, or Twitter about our lunch break? These are our computers, dang it. We paid good money for them. They still work. There’s no technical reason they can’t do everything that a MacBook can. So if you want something done, you do it yourself, and we did. The result is TenFourFox.

You’ve still got do deal with things like older versions of Flash (yuck) and QuickTime. I mean, everyone is abandoning PowerPC-based Macs, and it’s only a matter of time, but TenFourFox buys you some time, just like WaMCom bought us some time back in the old days… I’ve always thankful for the people behind these projects. They take on work that the so-called “official” software developers won’t, or can’t. I know there’s only so many hours in the day, and developer time has to be focused, but still… it’s always a shame to see working technology abandoned.

Anyway, TenFourFox is now on two machines, and I’ll put it on more if I need to, and let you know how it goes…


I got into Processing when I saw that it was a way to interface my desktop computer with an Arduino. Since then I’ve been exploring Processing more and seeing what it can do.

The latest excursion has been into audio, and I found a library called minim to play with. Download it, unzip it, and drop the ‘minim’ folder into your ‘libraries’ folder in your Processing folder, and you’re ready to go. Here’s my first experiment.

There’s an example for AudioInput which shows audio waveforms, so I grabbed the example and modified it slightly, I mainly twiddled the numbers a bit for a larger display.

Audio Waveform

Here’s the (slightly modified) code. (1280×800 being the screen size of my MacBook.)

 * WavyLines.pde

import ddf.minim.*;

Minim minim;
AudioInput in;

void setup()
  size(1280, 800, P3D);
  minim = new Minim(this);
  in = minim.getLineIn(Minim.STEREO, 1280);

void draw()
  // draw the waveforms
  for(int i = 0; i < in.bufferSize() - 1; i++)
    line(i, 250 + in.left.get(i)*150, i+1, 250 + in.left.get(i+1)*150);
    line(i, 550 + in.right.get(i)*150, i+1, 550 + in.right.get(i+1)*150);

void stop()
  // always close Minim audio classes when you are done with them

This code (at least on Mac OS X) runs and expects the sound input to be the built-in mic on the MacBook. This is pretty fun, and my daughter (who plays the trumpet) had a good time making all sorts of strange noises and watching the waveforms that were generated. If you export it from Processing as an application, you can run it full screen with no menubar, etc.

While the mic input is fun, you can also build yourself a little audio visualizer that reacts to what audio your computer is playing. There’s a bit in the manual about Setting the System Mixers, but I just went the Soundflower route here.

Once you’ve got Soundflower installed, you can set up your audio routing…

Sound Out
Sound In

Here’s my sound output and sound input settings in System Preferences.

Fire up Soundflowerbed, and then choose a song in iTunes and our “WavyLines” application should respond appropriately.


Here’s what you should get… well, depending on the audio playing. Maybe I can team up with the guys in the Handmade Music Group at the Milwaukee Makerspace and come up with some ways to enhance this into something even cooler.


As long as we’re taking about OS X, I have a fix for when you try to screen share another computer on your network and the dialog box hangs… Really, this is super-annoying. You can get rid of it by rebooting, but I hate rebooting. You can’t easily hide it because it floats above other windows, and you can’t force quit it. Well, not easily…

In your favorite terminal program (I personally like iTerm but will do) type the following:

ps aux | grep NetAuthAgent

And you should see something like this:

pete  38146  0.4  0.2  2823072 13644 ??  S  8:28AM 0:43.59 /System/Library/CoreServices/
pete  40131  0.0  0.0  2425700   264 s001 R+ 10:26AM 0:00.00 grep NetAuthAgent

That first line, with the /System/Library/CoreServices/ bit is the one you want. See the first set of numbers in that line? That’s the process id (or PID.) Once you know the PID, you can do the following:

kill 38146

Typing the kill command followed by the process id should get rid of the dialog box.

Alternately, you can type:

killall NetAuthAgent

killall is a little more risky, as it kills processes based on name, not the PID, so if you have multiple process with the same name, it will kill them all. Hose things up enough and you’ll need to reboot, which is what we wanted to avoid doing in the first place.

Aren’t bugs fun?

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