Tag Archives: Software

ExpanDrive, a program I’ve used for years, allows you to mount FTP, SFTP, or S3 accounts as local drives on your computer on Mac or Windows. They just released their new Windows version, and it’s fast and slick. They support key authentication, which is my must-have feature.

Essential PC Software

I recently got my Sony TX690 back from the repair place, I asked them to wipe the HD to rid me of the plague that is Vista. Here’s the software I installed, in order, after getting it back: Firefox, Foxmarks, Thunderbird, Putty, TortoiseSVN, MIRC, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Topstyle, AutoHotKey, iTunes, EVDO drivers, Filezilla. I will probably install XAMPP later for offline plane hacking. That’s all I need to do everything I do on a computer.

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.

Announcing bbPress

The software that was running the WordPress support forums was getting long in the tooth and was not handling the load of increased exposure terribly well. A PHP upgrade rendered it nearly unusable. Anyway, long story short, I wrote some forum software. It’s called bbPress and is similar to WordPress in a lot of ways, including being Free-as-in-Software. The things that WP does well—unicode, timezones, XHTML, speed–it does well too. You can read all about it on the new bbPress site and grok its philosophy, comment on the blog, join the mailing list, checkout the code, submit bugs, patches, et cetera. I have been putting this off for almost a year now, so it’s very fufilling to get this project rolling. It went so fast that I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it sooner.

The goal of bbPress is to bring some weblog and WordPress sensibilities to forum software. It’s never going to have a tenth of the features of phpBB or vBulletin, but that’s a feature itself. My experience with those packages is they’re like a herd of elephants who evolved on a strange island in bizzare ways, and they tend to foster a type of community that is antithetical to I’m trying to accomplish. We’ve learned a lot in the past few years about how the interactive web works, why do most forums look and act the same they did in 2000? Why is it still so hard to integrate user systems or mesh designs? Why can’t I ping a thread like I can a weblog post? Why can’t I filter by XFN values?

bbPress is not and will not be right for everyone. There are open source traditional forum packages, like PunBB, that get a lot of things right and push the envelope in interesting ways, so that’s covered. bbPress is not going to have avatars, or put post counts next to your name, or give every user 80 options about how they want their dates formatted, and for some people (maybe most people) that just won’t work. However even if WordPress.org is the only site that ever runs this software, it’ll be totally worth it just to get the forum technology growing again and create a richer support experience for the WP community.

MX900 on OS X

I could not be happier, I finally got my MX900 bluetooth mouse working correctly on Mac OS X. To clarify, it always worked but I had 5 buttons that were just there for decoration, and I really missed the back and forward buttons. The magic application that made my day? Gamepad Companion. I tried a couple of others, including the awful Logitech software, and nothing even came close to working. For future reference here are the button assignments on the mouse as shown in the interface:

  1. Left button
  2. Right button
  3. Wheel button (press down on wheel)
  4. Side back arrow button
  5. Side front arrow button
  6. Switch window button (below wheel)
  7. Up scroll (above wheel)
  8. Down scroll (below wheel)

The only thing that would make it perfect is if I could make the wheel button a double-click.

Linux for the Masses

It’s not there yet. I’m being totally unfair, because comparing Windows or OS X to the Linux distribution I’m using (Gentoo) is like apples and oranges. Gentoo is meant for people who are comfortable with the command-line and want to experiment. (It’d be fairer to compare Windows to Suse.) But I just want to bridge a connection between an ethernet card and a wireless USB device. Is that too much to ask? When I did this in Windows I just highlighted the two connections, right-clicked, and chose “Bridge Connections.” It spun for a little bit and then it was done. End of story.

The work started yesterday, when I figured out that the reason nothing would emerge is that there were bad GCC flags in my make.conf file. How they got there, I’ll never know. Bad ebuild I guess. So I got that fixed, synced, and updated world. 85 packages! The next day I compiled a new kernel (2.6.7-rc2) but forgot to load the Tulip module required for my ethernet card. Recompile, reboot. Runs great, and I tell myself everything is running faster. Right now I’m bridging my desk LAN to the main router through the Windows desktop, and since I just moved the linux box on a new UPS I’d like to move the wireless connection there too. I was feeling lucky, so I tried just plugging it in to see what happened. dmesg, device not recognized. Search search search the excellent Gentoo forums, find out that to get my MA101 working I shouldn’t use the drivers from Sourceforge, but rather the at76c503a Atmel drivers for wireless USB devices. Download, compile against current kernel sources, install. Reboot. Don’t have any wireless tools. emerge wireless-utilities. Twiddle for 45 minutes to see why it won’t see any networks. Forgot to enable “Wireless radio (non-HAM)” support in the kernel. Recompile. Reboot. iwscan shows my network, iwconfig wlan0 works as expected. The instructions that tell me to put in ad-hoc mode are wrong. (Hour later.) Put it in Managed mode. Cycle the device and run dhcpd wlan0. Ping Yahoo. Online! Track down documentation on bridging. Emerge bridging program. Appears to run fine, but gives a funky error and doesn’t seem to do anything. Add “802.11d bridging” support to kernel. Recompile. Remount /boot. Copy kernel. Reboot… Computer loads everything through Gnome, then mouse and keyboard freezes. Switch back to laptop, write blog entry to let off steam. Reboot again, just to see if it’ll work. Loads, run brctl.So far so good. brctl addbr mattlan returns br_add_bridge: Package not installed, which seems to indicate that the proper kernel module isn’t installed. Would check the .config, but the computer just froze again.

I need some rest.

Sing It From the Rafters

WordPress 1.2 is available. I’m at a loss for words at the moment, so I’ll just quote the features list:

  • Sub-categories: Categories can be arranged hierarchically and infinitely deep. Multiple categories combined with sub-categories gives WordPress the most comprehensive taxonomy system of any blogging software available.
  • OPML Export and Import: You can import and export OPML to systems like Bloglines or desktop aggregators like NetNewsWire and FeedDemon.
  • Automatic Thumbnail Creation System: WordPress has a refined upload feature that automatically creates thumbnails any size you want.
  • Encrypted passwords and cookies: All passwords in the database and password cookies are encrypted, ensuring maximal security.
  • New plugin architecture: The new plugin architecture simplifies modifying or extending WordPress’ features. Plugins can now hook into nearly every action WordPress does.
  • Localization of WordPress and Unicode support: The efforts put into internationalizing WordPress have borne fruit, and now you can adapt WordPRess to work in your native language. Several translations are already available.
  • Advanced comment moderation: You can now fine-tune your moderation filters in a manner very similar to blacklists for other weblog tools. There is also mass-editing of comments, which makes it a snap to delete hundreds of comments with the click of a button, if necessary.
  • Post preview: Near-instant previews while writing or editing articles help you proofread and make improvements before finally presenting your work of art to the world.
  • RSS and LiveJournal Importers: The new RSS import script is the closest thing to an universal importer. It allows you to import entries from Radio weblogs even other blogging tools that we may not support specifically. The LiveJournal importer finally lets you have a full blooded self-hosted weblog without losing all your old LiveJournal posts.
  • Unlimited update services: Now you can define multiple weblog change monitoring services to be pinged when you post.
  • Directory flexbility: Now you can have all the WordPress files in one directory and the weblog in a higher level directory.

Essential Software

My laptop is approaching a level of instability that only a truly borked Windows installation can match, so I think it’s time to make a list of my essential software so when I format and start over I don’t forget anything important and have to install it in a pinch later. So here is software I use on a daily basis and find important enough to reinstall:

Fin! Now if I can just find the restore CDs for my laptop, I’m good to go. Wish me luck.