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Even Apple Messes Up Sometimes

January 29th, 2012 joconner No comments

You have to respect Apple. They have excellent products that are known worldwide for their quality and ease-of-use. Part of that ease-of-use comes from their commitment to producing internationalized, world-ready products. However, even the best companies and employees make mistakes.

Recently I purchased a new iMac 27″ computer for my family. Of course, they don’t believe it is for them since I spend the most time using it. But I’m going to stick with my story…it’s the new family computer. Anyway, I immediately noticed that Apple is pushing their iCloud service. During setup and first run of things like iPhoto, I was prompted to choose whether I wanted to use iCloud for backups, etc.

Of course, I had to try out the iCloud service, so I entered all my personal details — name, account id, etc. The service works as expected, and I have nothing interesting to report on that.

To make iCloud clearly available and visible, Apple puts the iCloud service settings into the System Preferences application.

icloud settings

Clicking on the iCloud icon brings up the iCloud settings of course. Again, not much to say there. You have all the typical iCloud-able apps to choose from: Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Photo Stream, etc. However, I did quickly notice that iCloud had a little trouble with my name. Instead of showing my full name as John O’Conner, the iCloud app prominently displayed it as John O'Conner. Oops.

Icloud name

I admit that this is not the first time I have seen my name displayed in this way. Web forms sometimes mistakenly store my name using character entity references. Apparently the apostrophe sends bank and medical systems into fits of confused stupor. However, I’m surprised that it trips up Apple in this way.

It just goes to show you that even some of the best companies can make mistakes with how they handle and display text data. It’s common to normalize text when putting it into a database. However, I don’t think a character entity reference is the right thing to put into your db. If you do, you certainly should remember to decode it when you display it to your user.

 

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Sharing an iTunes Library Across Multiple Accounts on Same Machine

December 27th, 2011 joconner No comments

Itunes logoSharing an iTunes library across multiple accounts on the same computer isn’t difficult…once you know the trick. And that’s the problem, the trick isn’t obvious. If you have a large family with lots of music, you might want to try this.

Creating a Family Account

First thing I did was create a “family” group on my iMac. As an admin on the machine, go to your System Preferences->Users & Groups. Create the “family” group and add all your family member accounts to it.

Create the Shared Folder

In your Finder, press <Shift>+<Command>+G. Enter /Users/Shared. This takes you to a shared user account that I just discovered. Create a Media folder here. Now copy or move your old Music folder (that contains your ITunes folder) to this /Users/Shared/Media folder. See image below:

SharedMedia

 

Click on the Media folder and allow your family to have read+write access to it. Select the folder, press <CTRL>+I for information on the folder. You will be able to add your family group to the folder and add read/write permissions for this group. The image below shows the access portion of the information screen:

Permissions

Click the + button to add the family group. Then change the Privilege to Read & Write. Then you might need to click on the lock icon to unlock the next option. I applied the privilege to this and all enclosed items, which conveniently provides the same access privileges to the iTunes content. You may want or need finer control on access, but we want everyone to be able to update the library.

Point iTunes to the Shared Library

Now that you have a shared library, you need to perform the repetitive task of pointing each user’s iTunes to this shared library. You can do this by logging into each user account and doing the following:

  1. While holding the <ALT/OPTION> key, click on the iTunes application.
  2. iTunes will open and ask you choose an iTunes library. Navigate to and select the shared iTunes folder you created previously.
    Choose library

That’s it. Now all your family members have access to the same iTunes library. Whether this is a good thing, I don’t know yet. If someone accidentally deletes my music collection, I’ll have to rethink this strategy.

(The iTunes logo is no doubt a trademarked image of Apple Inc., and hopefully I’m using it correctly. If not, please let me know.)

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Categories: Mac OS X Tags: ,

Recently installed Java 7 on Mac OS X

August 20th, 2011 joconner No comments

I recently installed Java 7 on my Mac OS X system. Although the installation went smoothly, I did run into one problem that might not be a big issue for you.

I didn’t go through the hassle of compiling it for myself. Instead, I opted to grab a precompiled JDK from here: http://code.google.com/p/openjdk-osx-build/downloads/list?q=label:Featured

Specifically, I chose the OpenJDK 1.7 universal (32/64 bits) from Mac OS X branch download. Then I ran the /Applications/Utilities/Java Preferences.app to 1) pull both 1.7 versions to the top of the list, and 2) select those 1.7 versions, and 3) unselect the 1.6 JDK I also have installed.

NetBeans seems to run just fine. I’m able to create a new target JDK for the IDE, etc.

Now the problem: I tried running jrunscript from the command line to do some simple tests of new functionality in Java 7. I have found the simple jrunscript JavaScript interpreter to be an excellent way to quickly access Java classes for simple tests, confirmation of APIs, etc. Oddly, the tool didn’t run correctly despite being available in the JDK’s bin directory. Here’s the output of my attempt:

$ which java
/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.7.0.jdk/Contents/Home/bin/java
$ which jrunscript
/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.7.0.jdk/Contents/Home/bin/jrunscript
$ jrunscript
script engine for language js can not be found

Anyone ever see this before? Find a solution? Thanks in advance.

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Categories: Java, Mac OS X Tags: ,

Omnigraffle and UML?

August 9th, 2011 joconner No comments

Umlstencil

Some coworkers recently recommended Omnigraffle to me as a UML diagramming tool. After installing a copy, I discovered that although UML “stencils” are available, the tool is not in fact a dedicated UML tool at all. Ahem…obviously I should have read the description a little better.

Now that I have Omnigraffle, however, I will need to use it at least until I find something better for UML diagrams. I have found a few stencils — stencils are pre-made template objects that can be used in your diagrams. So far I’ve found these:

  • Bantik UML — not really full featured but certainly nice looking. It’s not a reasonable choice because it just doesn’t have a full set of UML diagram types.
  • UML 2 — again, just not nearly a full set of diagram types.
  • UML 2.1 Collection — has practically everything I need for now. Best set of diagrams I’ve found. The only trouble I had was that the unzipped stencil wasn’t properly named. When I finally added the .gstencil extension to the unzipped file, Omnigraffle recognized it.

If you know of a better set than the UML 2.1 Collection above, let me know. Until I find something better, that’s what I’m using. I feel a bit silly for using OmniGraffle in the first place. It isn’t exactly a UML tool, but it can be forced into it as needed.

Since I started using NetBeans again recently, maybe I’ll check out the plugins available for it. Surely someone has created a UML plugin. I’ll check that out tomorrow and let you know what I find.

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Categories: Mac OS X, Tools Tags: ,

Mac OS X and server-ish software

June 3rd, 2010 joconner 2 comments

I’ve owned a Macbook Pro before…it wasn’t a great experience, but it was acceptable. It was during a period of my career when my primary job was to communicate with other developers and to evangelize Java. The Macbook worked in that environment.

Now my needs are different, but I find myself using another Macbook Pro. Fine machine, don’t get me wrong…but I have to admit that I’m a bit lost regarding how to update the tools that were preloaded with the OS. For example, I find most of the common tools on this machine:

  • perl
  • php
  • apache http server
  • java

In all cases, these tools exist but are outdated in some way. They have newer versions that have features that I’m interested in, and I want to upgrade.

The question now is simple…what is the best way to find and upgrade these types of developer tools in a Mac OS X environment? Colleagues have mentioned “fink” and “Macports”. Are there other sources of Mac OS X software ports for these common developer tools? Do those sources place the new tools in the same locations used by the old tools, effectively replacing them in the system? Or do they place the new tools in a separate, different location?

I’ll find out the answers to these questions on my own as well, but I’m curious if you have tips and suggestions before I get too far down my own newbie path.

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