Category Archives: Mac

ZigVersion and RailsPlayground Subversion Hosting Rock

I have a few Ruby on Rails applications I maintain outside of the commercial work I do. These applications are important to me but I have been very bad at keeping them in any source control until today.

I use RailsPlayground with a VPS for my personal hosting and I have been very happy with the hosting and the service in particular. I started looking around for a free or cheap Subversion hosting source and was pleasantly surprised RailsPlayground provides this to their VPS clients.

Pretty decent specs compared to some of the paid-for Subversion hosting plans:

Advanced Subversion and Trac Hosting

In addition to your normal webspace with our hosting plans you will receive a free account on our dedicated SVN and Trac Server with the following features.

* 1 GB Disk Space
* 10 GB Traffic
* Unlimited repositories
* Unlimited users for each repository
* Trac installed automatically via our custom control panel
* Your own Bugzilla instance by request
* Nightly offsite backups
* RAID 1 Data protection
* Secure HTTPS and HTTP access to your svn repositories
* Free with any of our current hosting packages.
* Just send an email to support@railsplayground.com to request access to this service once you have signed up.

I sent an email to support and less than 1/2 hour later I had a new account in their Subversion system and ready to go. I am doing much of my Rails work on a MacBook Pro and Subversion from the command line has not been my favorite way to work. I guess I am used to TortoiseSVN on Windows.

Welcome ZigVersion, a SubVersion client for the Mac from my good buddy Mike Gunderloy over at A Fresh Cup. A quick Twitter chat with Mike and I had the answer I was looking for, a great Subversion client for my Mac. The installation was trivial, as usual on the Mac, and connecting to my SubVersion repository was as well.

I simply added my project files via ZigVersion and checked in…done. The user interface is pretty sharp too.

ZigVersion

I am going to use this for my personal projects, since the client is free, but I will also see how well this works over the long-term and may look to buy a license of ZigVersion for commercial work.

I am also looking at using Git since I was lucky enough to score an invite to GitHub but I wanted to get something up fast and I am just get familiar with Git.

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Overview of Latest Leopard Update from Wired

Apple released Leopard update 10.5.2 a couple days ago which is intended to fix many of the common complaints with the operating system.  I ran the update as soon as I had heard it was available and it installed without problem.  I did hear a few people having problems but they seemed like isolated incidents and I am not aware of the details.

Wired Blog Network had an article titled Latest Leopard Update Resolves Common Complaints which highlights some of the major updates and biggest complaints.  I was going to write up something about the updates but since Scott Gilbertson already beat me too it, I figured I would just quote some of the details he gives.

When I ran the update on my MacBook Pro it weighed in a whopping 370MB, bigger than I expected.  The shear size alone should be a good indication at the number of fixes.  The release notes on this update from Apple are worth looking at for details on particular fixes, but the important ones from Wired:

  • AirPort – improves connection reliability and stability
  • Mail – numerous bug fixes and better handling of SMTP servers
  • RAW image support for several new cameras (Canon, Nikon and more)
  • Safari – patches a security flaw that affected only Leopard’s version of Safari 3
  • Third Party Apps – Improves general stability when running third-party applications.

Below are some additional links to some other sources of information on the update.

See Also:

I think this update is big in working toward fixing some of the items people complained about.  I have not had any real issues with Leopard since I installed it but my use is not 100% of my daily computing time.

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37Signals – Holding the future in your hand

apple-logo6 A recent post over at the 37Signals blog by David about how new products from Apple make you feel like you are holding the future in your hands, reminded me of some of the thoughts I have had over the past year or so since I bought my first iPod.  David accurately explains:

Apple has an uncanny ability to infuse their products with that nebulous sense of futurism. When I first held the iPhone, the one word that immediately came to mind was just that: This is the future. It’s that unadorned look, the nobody-else-is-doing-just-this feeling.

When my MacBook Air arrived this morning, I felt exactly the same thing. Even the packaging feels future. It’s so tiny. It doesn’t look like any other packaging out there. The box opens as a board game and it’s really solid and sturdy.

David (DHH) purchased a new Apple MacBook Air and he explains the experience of working with the Air for the first time, equating it to seeing how other companies products will be influenced by what Apple creates. 

The machine itself is without a doubt the prettiest laptop I’ve ever seen. The proportions feel so right. Impossibly thin, lighter than the ~3 pounds would lead you to believe. And yet it’s a full-blown computer with no sacrifices in the interaction. The keyboard is a slight bit more klackity-click than the new standalones, but still awesome. The screen is very bright and instantly at full strength (go LEDs).

I have to agree 100% with David, Apple is the marquis product company, creating great products which will be imitated and duplicated by others.  Apple has really been the leader in the business of creating unique product designs since the early days of the Mac.  It has always been clear when looking at an Apple product that it was an Apple product.

Shouldn’t companies creating the next car, laptop or piece of software strive to have the same reaction to their product as David has with his new MacBook Air?  I don’t think we spend enough time working out the small details, we are too often pressured to just get the product out-the-door.

Why aren’t other companies as design innovative?  I think this is part of the culture bestowed in a company by its founders.  Steve Jobs is a master designer, influencing great designs by thinking out-of-the-box and not imitating other companies.  I am pretty sure Steve’s team of hardware designers are picked based on a criteria that is a reflection of Steve himself. 

Apple is not alone with great design and usability.  37Signals is also, in my opinion, one of these companies with their well-thought-out products Basecamp, Highrise and Campfire.

I own an iPod, an iPhone and a MacBook Pro but I am not an Apple fanboy.  I don’t buy Apple products the day they come out just because it is an Apple product.  I own a Dell D820 laptop as well as an older Toshiba laptop, neither design comes even close to the elegance of the MacBook Pro.  

The future products from companies like Dell and Toshiba will have design in them from what Apple does with the MacBook Pro and the Air.  We will see thinner and lighter sub-notebooks like the Air from these companies.  The iPhone will lead to better phones from other companies such as Verizon, who already has a touch-screen device.

I am not shouting the praises of Apple as if Apple is the only company but pointing out how the great innovation coming from Apple leads to great products from other companies, hence we see the future when we look at products from the design leader.   We should all take this as an example and attempt to build better software, hardware or whatever we build, thinking out-of-the-box.

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MarsEdit 2.1 is the best blogging software on the Mac

I know the title is a bit subjective but I had to make the claim. You see, I am one of those Windows converts to the Mac you read about and I really like it. I admit I am not a 100% convert as my daily work includes writing applications on .NET and, well I still use my Windows XP desktop and Dell laptop.

I have been doing almost all of my blogging from Windows because I use Microsoft Live Writer. Live Writer is by far the best blogging client for Windows and using it is a pleasure but the only problem is does not run on the Mac.

I started searching for a good blogging tool for my work on the Mac, trying both ecto and older versions of MarsEdit. Even though both tools have a nice user marsediticon128 interface and worked reasonably well, neither have the features of Live Writer. I am not a power blogger or anything but one feature I really like is posting drafts to my blog from Live Writer so I can work on them later from a different system. This is just a nice feature and one I relied on more than I imagined.

So, along came MarsEdit 2.1, released only a few days ago. I downloaded the evaluation version and gave it a shot. Release 2.1 has something new, posting drafts to your blog. This was the killer feature I was looking for in a Mac blogging client. I gave it a run through it it worked as advertised. I paid my $29.95 right away and now am writing this post from MarsEdit. Very cool application, for sure.

There are plenty of other features I am sure I will use in the coming months which include many updates:

Hot off the presses in MarsEdit 2.1:

Search Your Drafts and Entries

Now you can quickly filter your posts and drafts by keywords. Just type a word or phrase into the toolbar search field, and MarsEdit will restrict the post listing to only items that contain the text you’ve typed.

Native Tags Support

For supported systems, including Movable Type and WordPress, MarsEdit now offers a field for capsule-style tagging of your posts. It even remembers the tags you’ve typed before, so you’ll be able to reuse them in a jiffy on future posts.

Improved Web Preview

MarsEdit’s built-in preview sports a sleek new default appearance, massively enhanced performance, and fine-tuned usability. Now previews update quickly and without flickering or jumping around as you edit your post.

Save Drafts To Server

A new Post Status popup in the options pane lets you choose between Published and Draft status. Server support for this feature is somewhat hit-or-miss, so be sure to test with something not too embarrassing!
Added not all that long ago in MarsEdit 2.0:

Beautifully Refined User Interface

MarsEdit 2.0 extends the simple elegance of MarsEdit 1.2, incorporating new features while continuing to simplify the user interface. Much more than just a pretty face, MarsEdit’s beauty and simplicity help you be a more productive weblog author.

Seamless Flickr Integration

The streamlined Media Manager now sports a dedicated tab just for Flickr! Browse your most recent photos, or your entire collection. You can even search by tag or photo title. When you find the perfect picture, insert it into your post with the click of a button.

Powerful Markup Macros

Nobody likes to type HTML code, which is why MarsEdit’s markup macros are so invaluable. With the ability to transform text from the editor or the pasteboard, you’ll find it a breeze to customize macros for the most tedious of your HTML tasks.

Streamlined Post Editor

The post editor was completely rethought for MarsEdit 2.0, giving you the power to show or hide fields in the window so that only the useful elements are visible. On supported weblogs, you can even add new categories, or edit the slug (short URL name) of your posts, without ever leaving MarsEdit.

New Printing Support

MarsEdit makes writing on the web a real joy, but sometimes it takes marking up a paper copy of your masterpiece to make sure you’ve gotten all the kinks out. With MarsEdit 2.0 you can print both the raw text of your post or the HTML preview, making it a snap to take your work-in-progress offline for yourself or others to review.

And More…

A huge number of “tiny tweaks” have been made to MarsEdit, moving it ever closer to perfection. Take a look around and see how well it suits you!

It looks like development is moving along nicely with MarsEdit and I look forward to using it and seeing future updates.

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Setting up MySQL on Leopard

I just upgraded my MacBook Pro from Tiger to Leopard this weekend. No, Tiger was working fine but I wanted to have the latest Mac OS like everyone else, so what the heck. The installation went very smooth thanks to a nice blog post over at Redline Software. I backed up using SuperDuper and booted off the backup to make sure it worked, and it did.

I use my MacBook Pro to write Ruby on Rails applications and use both SQLite3 and MySQL. It appears as of this writing there is not a pre-packaged release of MySQL which is supported under Leopard. There appears to be some inconsistent behavior I didn’t want to have to deal with. I found a great blog post from Hivelogic called Installing MySQL on Mac OSX. This post was dead-on and saved me a ton of time and I hope this post will guide you to solving your problem.

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Apple MacBook Air – Why Would I Want One?

Apple took the covers off its new sub-notebook, MacBook Air,  at MacWorld 2008.  The rumors about the notebook were true and it appears leaking a bit of information here and there is Apple’s style and works by creating a stir.

design-displayair20080115-tm

The notebook looks to be with the historical Apple style, very well thought out both on the outside and on the inside.

Technical Specifications

  • Height: 0.16-0.76 inch
  • Width: 12.8 inches
  • Depth: 8.94 inches
  • Weight: 3.0 pounds
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo with 4MB shared L2 Cache
  • Memory: 2GB 667MHz DDR2
  • Bus Speed: 800Mzh Frontside Bus
  • Storage: 80GB 4200-rpm PATA hard drive
  • Display: 13.3: glossy widescreen
  • Wireless: Built-in AirPort Extreme WiFI IEEE 802.11n draft, a/b/g compatible
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Optical Drive: No
  • Battery Life: 5 hrs
  • Price: $1799

It seems a bit pricey to me.  Could this be another early-adopter iPhone-like price that will drop to $1399 in a few months?  Who knows, but that is the real deal breaker for me.

Also you can “upgrade” to the 64 GB Solid State drive for $999, for a total of $2798.  You could own a nice MacBook Pro for that price.  I did hear the drive from Seagate is $2500 but still, $999 for 16 GB less storage.  Is Solid State that much better than the drive included with the base model?

I am sure there is a ton of reviews and opinions on the web about this system.  It certainly looks gorgeous, just not sure it will be worth the money at this point.  If I traveled all the time I may think differently, I will stick with my MacBook Pro.

You can read about the reaction over on TechCrunch who had a good-time knocking the new toy.  My guess is Apple will sell a ton of these just because the real diehard Apple followers will buy anything from Apple.  I am not that bad.

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MacHeist – 11 Mac Applications at a Great Price for Charity

In the event you are a Mac user and didn’t know about MacHeist, here it is:

The MacHeist bundle is back!

Last year’s bundle caused a frenzy in the Mac community, selling over 16,000 copies in a week. This year, we’re setting our sights a little higher, with a larger bundle, a two week sale, and what we believe to be a stronger collection of apps. Simply put, this is the best Mac software deal in history.

Explore the bundle

The great part about indie Mac software is a “try before you buy” mentality. All applications in the bundle can be given a test run before you buy.

Feeling charitable?

Last year, our members were offered a choice of charities to have 25% of their purchase donated to. This initiative became a spectacular success, with $200,000 raised by the end of the event. This year, we’re hoping to shatter last year’s record numbers, and show how generous the Mac community can be.

Share with your friends

Much of MacHeist’s success has been thanks to a tremendous amount of word of mouth spread. To encourage MacHeist members to bring friends into the fold, we’ll be offering additional free applications to those who manage to spread the bundle. More information about this program will be coming soon.

There are 11 applications totalling $368.75 for only $49.  Did I mention it goes to charity?   Applications include:

  • 1password
  • CoverSutra
  • Cha-Ching
  • iStopMotion
  • Awaken
  • Speed Download
  • AppZapper
  • TaskPaper
  • CSSEdit
  • Snapz Pro X
  • Pixelmator

CSSEdit, Snapz Pro X and Pixelmator unlock once there is a pre-determined level of buyers for the bundle, but I am confident it will be reached.

Head over and buy the bundle for charity.

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