I have moved my blog to Wordpress at theunixgeek.wordpress.com. I will still be checking back periodically on this one as well, though. 19 April 2009

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!



2009 is just around the corner, so happy new year to everyone, and be ready for some nice changes here on The Unix Geek blog.

Symphony on Ubuntu: To Fix


Here are three reasons why I'm not using IBM Lotus Symphony on Ubuntu (I like the whole concept of the application, but it doesn't look native neither on Mac OS X nor on Ubuntu):

  1. Windows 95 Controls. No. That's just wrong. How about using Cleanlooks, or at least trying to imitate it somewhat well, like the Qt apps?
  2. I can't resize the Properties pane, and some controls are partially missing.
  3. Bad rendering of traditional Chinese text in a Rich Text File. What's up with the boxes, Euro signs, and Greek letters? The same file opened with no problem on OpenOffice 3. (Note, though, that no part of the actual text has been lost. All the sentences are still legible if you take away all the other symbols).
This isn't, however, the first time major cross-platform software has looked awkward.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Look

To celebrate the new year, I've decided that The Unix Geek blog needed a new look. Here is a comparison of the old one (white and grey) and the new one (red and grey):


Windows 7 Beta coming in January


Apparently, some people have already gotten their hands on the Windows 7 Beta, which is supposed to be released in January. To avoid any problems, I'll be waiting until then to try it out and post a review of what I think of the new OS.

Here's an existing review, which, surprisingly enough, recommends the beta for daily production use.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aluminum MacBook Review


Apple's been marketing the Aluminum MacBook as being "Beautifully Engineered, Inside and Out," a "Technological Beauty," "Engineering with Good Taste," being part of "The World's Greenest Notebook Family," and "Perfectly Conceived." And I must say, I agree with all of these.

At first sight, the new MacBook is a stunningly beautiful piece of technology. The colors Apple chose were a perfect match for each other, and I loved how the whole upper part of the MacBook was made of glass. There was no "dip" from the part surrounding 
the display into the actual display. Everything went fluidly across, and at a certain distance and angle, with the display put to sleep, you could barely tell that the actual display wasn't the whole glass. 

The aluminum felt absolutely great. It reminded me of the texture of the silver aluminum iPod nano, but it felt so much nicer on a computer. It felt much smoother than the white MacBook. I'm glad that, along with the overall smoothness of the aluminum, there isn't a sharp edge on the ends of the armrests of new MacBook, unlike its older brother.

Like the MacBook Air, there is a wedge leading from the body of the case to its bo
ttom (not as drastic, obviously), giving you the sense that the computer is thinner and that it's sort of floating in the air, which is an interesting fancy once you pay attention to it.

The new multi-touch trackpad is really cool. I found it slightly strange at times, but after using it for about five more minutes, I became completely accustomed to it. The color matches the rest of the aluminum case, and the multi-touch gestures seem extremely useful, especially for graphic artists who need to rotate something, or even an every-day web surfer of the web who needs to zoom in a bit on a webpage with tiny text. Unlike what it seems Apple thinks, however, (or maybe it's just a working advertisement plan), we don't spend our whole day in iPhoto and the rest of the iLife suite. In fact, I think Apple should include iWork with their computers instead of iLife, but that's an opinion for a different post.

I wasn't really able to test the graphics too much, but I can say that it was a good move. The display wakes up quickly after having been closed, and your display viewing experience isn't really affected by your angle so much as it was in the previous MacBooks.

The backlit keyboard is really useful, but it can be a bit sensitive and turns on the backlight when a few people cast a light shadow over it.

They made the thumb scoop a tad bit deeper, which is nice; it makes it easier to open the computer, and they seem to have added a thumb scoop to the MacBook Pro as well, for which I share the same opinions as described here for the MacBook.

One thing I noticed, however, was that the part that surrounds the air vent in the MacBook was made from the same or a similar material to that of the overall composition of the black MacBook instead of black glass. Another thing that I couldn't quite understand was the presence of a very tiny little speaker just above the F1 key. When I played some sound, I didn't seem that it was coming out of the little speaker, but rather from the same place where sound comes out of in the white MacBook.

Overall, I really liked the new aluminum MacBook, and I see a great audience for it internationally. It's sleeker, faster, and overall a great upgrade to the previous generation of MacBooks, and I would always recommend it to people who ask me if they should look into buying one.

One thing I noticed that Brazilian Apple retailers are doing differently from those in other countries is selling the white, black, and aluminum (with backlit keyboard) MacBook instead of just having the white and two models of the aluminum one.

Friday, December 12, 2008

On AppleScript Studio

It's not surprising to see that AppleScript Studio has somewhat gone defunct. I mean, who actually uses AppleScript at all these days? Yet, on another side, it's somewhat sad to see it go away. No, Apple didn't kill it; its users did.

If you take a look at the AppleScript Studio programming guide, you can see that the last time it was updated was on 4 April, 2006. Soon, that'll be three years ago. There are plenty of reasons people may strand away from AppleScript onto other scripting languages such as Python, Perl, Ruby, and the like: it's not open-source, it's not cross-platform, it's not localized into other languages, and the list goes on and on. Moreover, scripting languages are rarely used to write full binary applications, but rather more utility-like ones that are usually interpreted.

Why is it sad that AppleScript, and more precisely, AppleScript Studio, is dying? It was the Rapid Application Development toolkit of the Macintosh. It eased the manipulations of other applications from your own app, and it allowed even non-experienced programmers to write simple applications.  It could even be considered an intermediary step from little or no Macintosh programming experience into the world of Cocoa. After all, it's got all the same controls with similar methods and the same connection paradigm in Interface Builder.  

Besides, it can't be forgotten how English-like it is; although that could be considered a weak point, I can imagine localization to other languages, which could, however, be hindered with grammatical differences, such as, for example, noun genders and contractions of prepositions with articles in Romance languages.

Overall, I can see many reasons why AppleScript Studio isn't the development toolkit of choice for programmers, but a lot of things that can be done with it would only be made more difficult by other means. I could see a bright future for AppleScript studio if Apple marketed it as heavily as they market Cocoa.

Note: by "Cocoa" in this article, I mean to refer to programming Cocoa via Objective-C, since AppleScript Studio applications are also Cocoa ones.

Update (13 Dec. 2008): After giving it a bit of further thought, I concluded that AppleScript and AppleScript Studio weren't exactly killed off, but Apple reduced marketing of it and thus reduced its overall presence.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finally, After Two Months!

Finally, after two months, Apple has finally released the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros in Brazil.

At least the following stores are selling them: Saraiva, Submarino, and Fast Shop

I will try to review one as soon as possible.

Google Translate's New Look

Google Translate has a new look. I find it makes a great dictionary, even when not in dictionary mode, and I'm glad there's finally a "swap" option to swap the languages.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Setting up PHP in Mac OS X

I tried out some PHP yesterday and I found out that OS X doesn't really come as an out-of-the-box MAMP (Mac-Apache-MySQL-PHP) server, especially on the PHP part. If you try running some server-side PHP code, you'll end up seeing the source code instead of having the actual program run. Here's how you can fix the Apache configuration to get PHP working on your Mac.

Some characters used here are only viewable on OS X.
It is recommended that you back up the original configuration file before modifying it.
Form A: Graphically
  1. In the Finder, press ⌘⇧G (Command-Shift-G), and type /etc/apache2 . Press Return or select Go.
  2. Change the permissions of the httpd.conf file. Select it, press ⌘I (Command-I), open the Sharing and Permissions pane, click the lock, and type in your password (if you have one). Change the privilege of "everyone" to "Read & Write."
  3. Open the file with a text editor like TextMate or Smultron (the latter is free). 
  4. Find the line that reads #LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/libphp5.so and uncomment it (remove the preceding #).
  5. After the following line, add the lines AddType application/x-httpd-php .php .phtml .php3 and  AddType application/x-httpd-php-source .phps to make PHP files recognizable.
  6. After saving and closing the file, go back to the Sharing & Permissions pane in the Info panel and change the privilege of "everyone" to "Read Only." Click the lock and close the Info panel. You're done!
Form B: In the Terminal
  1. Open Terminal.app (/Applications/Utilities)
  2. cd /etc/apache2
  3. sudo pico httpd.conf (or another text editor of choice)
  4. press ^W and enter php5
  5. See step 4 of Form A.
  6. ^X to quit, Y to confirm, and press Return. You're done!
Remember: PHP is a server-side language, not a client-side one, so you should, after enabling web sharing, at the very least open up your file by opening 127.0.0.1/~UserName/file.php in your browser instead of just dragging in the PHP file. Don't forget to have web sharing turned on (System Preferences > Sharing).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Apple likes Beethoven

I bet Apple likes Beethoven, because that's the Moonlight Sonata (Moonscheinsonate) there on the Classical album cover in the iTunes Grid View.