Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sun Unveils Project Blackbox

Fully contained datacenter in a shipping container, why not! Check out Project Blackbox.

This is so cool! :) I almost wish to have one of these on my balcony.

Changing Font Size in NetBeans

I submitted a bug few weeks ago in hope that the default font size for Mac version of NetBeans can be set to something smaller compared to what it currently is.

When I started using NetBeans on Mac I felt that the font is just way too huge and text as well as menu and tab controls take a lot of space that could be used to display more code which means less scrolling.

The bug I submitted seems to attract attention of NetBeans developers these days so hopefully something will be done about it.

For now, I found out that you can control the font size with a command line parameter --fontsize <number>. Or even better you can put this in the netbeans.conf file that can be found in /Applications/NetBeans.app/Contents/Resources/NetBeans/etc/ directory. I prefer to use font size 11 (the default is 13). To set this you need to append the setting to the net so the netbeans_default_options variable.
netbeans_default_options="........ --fontsize 11"
Btw the version 5.5RC2 is out, this release doesn't contain the AIOOBE bug that was giving me a lot of trouble on my intel mac.

Friday, October 13, 2006

SafeSleep (a.k.a. Hibernation) for Intel Macs

Don't you just love how easy it is to put your Mac to sleep when you close the lid on your notebook? And how instantly your Mac can wake up when you open the lid later on? It's just great and it is very reliable.

But while the computer is in the "sleep" mode it still consumes some energy. Usually it's nothing worth considering, but when you are traveling for couple of days you might want to save every bit of battery energy possible.

Both Windows and Linux offer you an option of hibernation. Of course MacOS supports hibernation as well but Apple refers to this feature as "SafeSleep". While experimenting with my Macbook Pro I've noticed that SafeSleep is used every time the battery is totally drained and there is not enough energy for powering the Sleep mode. When you plug in the laptop, ahem notebook, to the power adapter, it will use the hibernation file to recover the content of the RAM and thus the OS state. In fact the hibernation file is created every time the computer goes to Sleep mode so taking out the battery while the computer is in the Sleep mode will have the same effect.

I was pointed to this article that discusses the pmset command line tool and describes how to use it to prevent Macs notebooks from waking up on opening the lid or setting up the power button to put the computer to sleep without displaying the "shutdown menu".

pmset tool can be used to set the hibernation/sleep mode:
pmset -a hibernatemode 0 # Sleep mode, but don't create a hibernation file
pmset -a hibernatemode 1 # SafeSleep (Hibernation) mode
pmset -a hibernatemode 3 # Sleep mode + create hibernation file (Default)
When putting MacOS to sleep it will do whatever hibernatemode is set to.

I also found this article that describes how to create an apple script that will enable you to hibernate the computer but launching it (without having to fiddle around with terminal). But unfortunately this script doesn't work for me so I fixed it a little:

do shell script "/usr/bin/sudo -k;/usr/bin/sudo /usr/bin/pmset -a hibernatemode 1; /usr/bin/sudo -k" with administrator privileges
ignoring application responses
tell application "Finder" to sleep
do shell script "(/bin/sleep 25 && /usr/bin/sudo -k && /usr/bin/sudo /usr/bin/pmset -a hibernatemode 3 && /usr/bin/sudo -k) &> /dev/null &" with administrator privileges
end ignoring
Store this 5-line script via script editor as "Application Bundle" with "Run Only" option checked and you are good to go. I've noticed that when you save it as "Application" it still doesn't work.

One last note for PowerPC MacHeads: Some Powerbooks support SafeSleep as well, but it involves a little more work. Check out this article for more details.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adobe Reader Direct Download Link

Update (07-04-22): see this entry for v8.0 download link.

Adobe is giving me more and more problems on my Macbook Pro. After being unable to install any of the Adobe trial applications (due to an abort trap error during installation), I hahttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifd problems installing Adobe Reader as well. This time the Adobe Reader Download Manager doesn't do it's job.

When you download the Adobe Reader from the Adobe website, you actually download "Adobe Reader Download Manger" that is supposed to download the Adobe Reader for you and launch the installation. What ever the reason for this is, it doesn't work.

You can however download the Adobe Reader directly and install it it without any problems. The link for the download is: http://ardownload.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/mac/7x/7.0.8/enu/AdbeRdr708_en_US.dmg

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Does AppleCare?

I've bought a MacBook Pro in March after it was released in February and I totally fell in love with it. It's screaming fast, looks great and MacOS is simply the best desktop OS I've ever seen.

But every love brings some pain... and I have experienced this as well. I was warned about revision A of any Apple computers, but at that time I really needed a new notebook so I was not listening.

So even though I was in love with this computer I started noticing problems with it. I don't want to post list of all of them because it would be quite a long list, but among others, I had heat problems, battery life problems, and noises coming from LCD and CPU.

I made an extensive search for these issues on the Web and I found out that I was not alone. Many users tried to have these problems fixed right away, but most of them were just wasting time by shipping their notebooks to be repaired and getting them back with most of the issues still present.

After approximately 6 weeks of using the notebook, I got to the point where I called AppleCare and let them know about my problems, hoping that they would have already had solutions to most of the problems.

Most of the people at the AppleCare call center I dealt with were really friendly and put effort in helping me. The opposite is true of the so called "Mac Geniuses" at the Valley Fair AppleStore in Santa Clara, whose main interest was to get me out of their sight after doing as little as possible.

To my surprise most of the problems were unresolved after the first repair. So right after the time when Apple finally acknowledged the "CPU Whine" problem I had the notebook fixed again. A couple of issues were resolved this time, but new problems were added as a free bonus, so another repair followed. This one took extremely long (almost a month) due to delays in repair docks as well as shipping problems, but worst of the notebook came back as I sent it, unrepaired, because Apple "could not reproduce the problems".

When even after the 3rd repair the problems were still present and I "reproduced" terrible noise one of the fans was making to a AppleCare representative over the phone, I was given an option of getting a brand new replacement, which I happily took thinking that my nightmares were over.

To my great surprise the replacement had problems of its own: SuperDrive problems, system crashes and a problem with the trackpad button.

This whole crusade for getting a notebook that "works as advertised" has been going on for months now.. and I'm getting yet another replacement in the next few days. Hopefully this time it will be a notebook that has no major issues.

Does all of this mean that Apple products are not what I used to hear about them or am I being just plain unlucky?

And regarding the question: "Does AppleCare?", my feelings are mixed. I think the answer is that yeah they do, if you make sure they know about your problems, you are persistent and you manage to talk to the right people. But considering the money you pay for a premium product and support, I think that Mac Geniuses, the product QA team and repair technicians have a lot of room for improvement. I hope that Apple's growing market share doesn't mean decreasing quality of their products and services.

Echo2 = Swing for Web Applications

There are so many web frameworks out there that one doesn't even know which one is worth exploring. I've recently seen an amazing demo app created with Echo2. Check it out here. There is also demo webmail, chat and other demos worth clicking on.

One thing that I found really interesting about this framework is that the whole gui is composed from java components (like Swing) that are rendered as xhtml/css/js, and all the communication between client and server is done via AJAX. This makes the app responsiveness heavily dependent on the network latency but that it is the only price you pay for using this framework.