Tag Archives: Computers

Braindead Finder Behaviour

Because of what I consider totally braindead behivour in the OS X Finder I appear to have lost about 60 pictures from my trip. When I offload pictures from card I generally drag the 100PENTX folder from the card onto my desktop and I leave things in that folder until I have a chance to compress the pictures, divide them into days, and upload them. Well OS X does this crazy thing where when you drag the folder onto the desktop it asks you if you want to replace the folder with the same name. On Windows I always say yes and it just adds the new pictures to those already in the folder. In OS X it apparently means delete the folder that’s already there with no way to recover it and replace it with the one you’re dragging. This happened to me a few times and I couldn’t figure out what was happening, luckily though I had backups on my iPod. Unfortunately going back over the pictures from the trip it seems a day is missing. Fortunately it was a day of mostly travel so I’ll live, but still a bummer. Updates: John Gruber weighs in, and here’s the exact message in Windows.

New update: Robert Scoble put me in touch with Bob Day who had this to say:

If the question is just “Why do merge by default?”, there are lots of

1. Because it maps well to operations that users are likely trying to
accomplish (see the scenario of dropping a picture folder from a
2. Folder replace can be done by deleting the destination folder first,
and then copying. If you have replace be the primary method, then merge
becomes a very tedious process.
3. Because it is less destructive?

Please realize that having a camera that uniquely assigns picture
numbers until you reset them becomes very important with this merge
behavior. If your pictures are all uniquely named, the default of
replacing files with the same name will allow you to not lose any files.

Also realize that this is a complicated scenario for most users. Almost
any choice is going to be bad for some users.

And yes, the behavior is a concious choice. We had to implement this
feature in Windows 95.

I followed up that “So before that [Windows 95] folders were deleted and
overwritten?” Bob responded: “I need the source code to Windows 3.1 to confirm. Anybody remember “File
Manager”? wow, that is old.” And dug up:

Ok, archeological discovery over. (wipes the dust off his sleeves)

Win3.1 would say the same thing for folders as it did for files:
“Replace file with file

And if you said “yes” for a folder, it would try to delete the
folder first, which would error out if the directory
wasn’t empty. Not sure what the error message is there.

I would love to get similar background for the Mac OS X behaviour.

Fixing Explorer Restart

Since my tragedy the other day I’ve been pretty busy working on things. My laptop was fine after the reboot, but the desktop was badly broken. It would start up just fine but once it started Explorer (the desktop, start bar, etc) would restart once every 3 seconds or so. I finally got it working, so I thought I would outline my steps here for the sake of anyone else who may have had a similar problem.

  1. First I wanted to stop the explorer restarts and so I hit ctrl+alt+delete and went to the task manager. Then I played a game of computer whack-a-mole. If you click on the constantly respawning explorer.exe task and end the process before it kills itself, it’ll stop restarting. Luckily my desktop isn’t too fast so I was able to catch it.
  2. At this point I decided that something must have gone wrong with the update, possible because the computer was on an old version of XP (SP1 or earlier) so the best remedy would probably be updating again. Unfortunately Internet Explorer wouldn’t run. I was able to start up Firefox through the task manager by going File > New task (Run...) and navigating to Firefox.exe on my hard drive but though it ran You can’t use Windows Update on Firefox, so I was still out of luck.
  3. While in the Run file dialog I noticed that my Samba network shares were mounted, so I could get files onto the desktop that way.
  4. I happened to have a copy of the downloadable Service Pack 2 file (270 MB) from Microsoft that’s much better than the network install thing. I honestly don’t remember what hoops I jumped through on their download site to get this or I would point you there. It’s a great thing to have on a CD.
  5. I copied that file to the Linux server and then using the Run dialog to open it from the mapped network drive on the desktop.
  6. I used task manager to shut down everything non-essential that was running in the background.
  7. The service pack installer ran. It came down to the reboot time and I crossed my fingers. When Windows finally restarted everything worked fine again.

There was probably a better way to do this, but this is just the path I took.

Also see these instructions for disabling automatic reboots but leaving automatic updating.

Bizarre Windows Behavior

So I’m sitting in bed on the Powerbook doing some editing. My music stops and I look up just in time to hear the Windows-shutting-down noise and see my main desktop turning off. My first thought is something is wrong with the power, which is why the desktop would be acting funny but the PC laptop is just fine. I was going to turn the music off anyway so I keep working. Then beeps and noises start coming from my laptop. The laptop (which has never had problems, even with SP2) looks like it’s shutting down too. I get to my desk in time to see it close the unsaved documents I was working on and start rebooting. It totally ignored the dialogs that were popping up, I couldn’t click or stop anything. Totally helpless. Now I’m in panic mode. Did one of the computers get infected with some new virus and they’re going to keep rebooting? Is some joker on our wifi network messing around? I quickly go to my router status page from my Mac and see just the normal clients are connected. I check the logs on the router and there’s no unusual activity. By this time the desktop PC has rebooted and I decide to log in to see what happens. It boots up normally at first, but then everything starts blinking and explorer.exe seems to be stopping and starting every 3 seconds. The laptop just came back up, so I login to that. A little icon pops up in the taskbar telling me a security update has been installed that required rebooting my computer.

THANK YOU MICROSOFT! I didn’t need those hours of work anyway. I feel so much safer now because I don’t have to worry about evil crackers getting to my data because I can be certain that you will mess it up first. God. There goes my weekend.

I just ctrl+alt+deleted out of the desktop because it was getting painful to watch. The laptop seems fine but I’m so disgusted I don’t even want to touch it. Just earlier this evening I was reading Scoble and thinking MS had some pretty decent stuff in the pipeline I could see myself buying, like the OQO. Not anymore.

The desktop started the login screensaver, but now appears to be totally frozen. I’m just going to turn it and the laptop off. I can see in the morning if maybe this was a virus/worm pretending to be a security update. This weekend will be spent getting valuable data off NTFS partitions and reformatting hard drives. Thinking back I’ve been a user of Microsoft software for about 75% of my life, I grew up with it. Now I’ve grown out of it.

I’m actually kind of sad. Yes it’s 4 AM. Yes I’m going to have to recreate the lost work. Yes I save, and thankfully it looks like I only lost about fifteen hundred words.

Update: Scoble apologizes. He reminds people to save often, personally I hadn’t really left the computer, I was just about 6 feet away. It’s a laptop so I never worry about power outages, it’s highly locked down and hasn’t crashed in at least a year. I wasn’t using Word 2003, even though I own it, most of the work was in open XHTML/PHP documents and a bit in a browser window on my local wiki. I can live with the fact that a hard drive might crash, or lightning may strike, or any number of extraordinary circumstances might cause me to lose data. I can’t reconcile that it was due to a feature of an operating system, a feature I was told to turn on to stay safe, and a feature that bugs you when it isn’t activated. I trusted the computer because of the improvements to stability Microsoft had made in XP and SP2. Trust like that is slow to build and easy to break.

Apple’s Challenge

If I was Apple I wouldn’t be worried at all about Windows, I would be worried about the next generation of Linux desktop software. The main reason I’m considering a G5 for my next desktop purchase is that I want a powerful machine that Just Works when I plug stuff in and can still run all the open source tools like Subversion, rysync, PHP, MySQL, etc etc that I rely on. It’s also interesting that all the software I regard these days as truly essential isn’t desktop software, it’s server software. I can survive switching text editors or graphics programs or even operating systems, but if I had to use ASP and SQL Server instead of Perl/PHP/Python and MySQL I’m not sure what I would do. I can function without these things on my desktop, but having to access them remotely (if it’s pretty transparent) prohibits some pretty cool stuff and diminishes my productivity.

Windows and OS X are tools I use to get things done. Linux desktop software (X, KDE, Gnome, etc) is a hobby. If I could focus on getting work done instead of getting my wireless card to work I could consider as a serious and cheaper alternative to a OS X desktop. (No matter what I want one of those new Cinema displays though.)

To preemptively clarify, my comments do not at all apply to Linux in the server space, where it by far the most mature and capable platform out there and I would hardly consider anything else.

A Foot of Mac

I broke down:

Three retail boxes, one for Keynote software, one for a 12 inch Powerbook, one for an iPod

Now I’m just walking around with a big goofy grin on my face. First thoughts:

  • I cannot tab in forms like I used to
  • Enter lets you change the filename instead of drilling down
  • The aliasing of the fonts looks funny at first but you get used to it
  • It’s faster than my Vaio
  • Things are very intuitive (e.g., setting up my bluetooth mouse)
  • iSync rocks
  • Setting up my phone as a GPRS modem was not intuitive.
  • I want something like Putty
  • 256MB of memory is not enough
  • I’m getting used the quirks pretty quickly
  • I keep hitting the trackpad when I’m typing and erasing stuff

It’s not a total switch, I still have Windows XP on a laptop and a desktop that I use daily, and my Gentoo desktop has been running very well. This is just getting my feet wet on a new platform, and greatly expanding my testing enviroment. A big part of my motivation was that a grossly disproportionate part of my audience (about one in six) is on OS X, a platform that I previously had no easy way to test on.

I would love to hear software recommendations and general tips and tricks. One thing I really miss is I used to have shortcut keys that would launch putty SSH sessions to different servers and use key authentication so I didn’t have to type anything, about 5 of them, and not having that is actually slowing me down a lot.


I did it!! I finally got a wireless card working on my Gentoo box. I can finally unplug that unsightly ethernet cord that’s been stringing across my house while I’ve been trying to get this working. The problem was there was a driver I had to download and then put into a directory which I also had to create. I didn’t find much to help me, but this thread put me on the right track. The card is a Harris Semiconductor D-Links DWL-g650 A1 (rev 01). I have been trying to get this (and other things) to work for almost a month now. This is a huge relief, and I can’t believe I’ve been held up this long by something so simple.

In The Last Episode…

A lot has happened since the last time I posted, it’s been a series of very long days.

Tuesday I went into work early to finish up some of the cabling (which is still going on) when mid-afternoon I got a call from John Greiner asking if I could play lead alto with a big band that night. He said they needed another alto too so of course I called Rene and we were all set for that night. I left work a little early to try and get a head start on traffic because I had to pick up my horn and stand from my house (Southwest), pick up Rene (Northeast), and go to the gig (Northwest). It was going to be a squeeze but Sarah offered to give Rene a ride and that made things so much easier.

The gig was a blast! It was the first ever performance of this group, which is basically a rehearsal band of musicians from around town. It had some funny parts (most of us were sight-reading) but it’s a great group and the good news is we’re going to be performing every Tuesday from 7:30–9:30 at the Pasta Co. on Woodway. Come check it out next week!

Yesterday was pretty crazy because the gateway/firewall/mail server here at work crashed pretty badly, to the point where I had spent so much time trying to fix bizarre problems that it became apparent that it would be faster just to set a new machine up. I was also surprised to find out that the machine was only a 166mhz Pentium with a mere 40mb of RAM! Before I saw the box itself I just assumed it was some sort of nice machine because it ran so well. Linux rocks! Anyway we set up a new one with some more modern hardware and I dropped Red Hat on it (something was wrong with our Slackware CDs) and then I spent the rest of the evening becoming intimately familiar with iptables. After that I drove all the way down to Sugarland to help some people out with some computer stuff and setting up a wireless network, and that went very well and it was a pleasant change of pace to have everything work the first time! Since it wasn’t enough having been working or driving for 16 hours that day, Josh called and we went to House of Pies, of course.

Today we’re getting three new T-1s installed!