Archive for October, 2005

My First NaNo Dilemma

Monday, October 31st, 2005

It’s that time of year again, when the sun grows cold and the little madfen write novels. My dilemma is: do I start at the crack of midnight, or do I get a good night’s sleep for the last time in the foreseeable future?

Desktop Managers II

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Timeslip of the day: Saving Time

I’m supposed to be gearing up for NaNoWriMo, so of course I geeked instead, downloading desktop manager demos for You Control:Desktops and CodeTek Virtual Desktops (CTVD). So now I can do a three-way comparison of them and the free, open-source Desktop Manager:

There’s nothing like free software, and Desktop Manager has freedom going for it. It also has enough features to satisfy the average cheapskate such as yours truly. Development seems to have stalled, but development is pretty slow on the other two as well so it’s hard to say which product is the most moribund. Desktop Manager felt the most stable of the three on Tiger.

YouControl has some nice features, like separate desktops for each virtual desktop. (The others show all you desktop icons on every desktop.) YouControl has nice OS X transitions (the fast user-switching Cube, etc.), but unfortunately they go backwards most of the time, making them highly annoying. (DesktopManager has transitions that work correctly; CTVD has no transitions.)

The major downside of YouControl is the linear desktop model. They’re very cute up there in the menu bar (on those rare occasions when program menus don’t hide them), but virtual desktops are traditionally paged through with a grid pager like that of Desktop Manager and CTVD. Paging through my six to nine desktops linearly just takes too long. But I think the real reason I gave it up was that it required a control click on the menubar icon in order to access the preferences or shut the thing down. Requiring right-clicks for anything is against the Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

CTVD follows the HIG very nicely indeed, though it’s behind the times on the fun transitions. Besides the preference settings for individual app behavior (which YouControl also has but Desktop Manager makes you set manually, window-by-window), CTVD also has a handy interface for setting separate desktop wallpaper. YouControl makes you do this manually with System Preferences; Desktop Manager crashed when I tried to do the same. CTVD also implements that pinnacle of all Unix features, focus-follows-mouse, as well as other subtle but handy features. The link to the pager skins page is wrong; the real page is here. On the down side, it seems to be a bit of a resource hog compared to the other two.

To pay for CTVD or go back to Desktop Manager, that is the question. I’ll see how the 15 days of my demo go and report back.

Snow Day

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

I opened my curtains sometime after lunch, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but snow. Big, fluffy flakes in October, that went on all afternoon and may still be falling now for all I know. (It’s dark.)

This is, as the woolly mammoths said right before they froze solid with the contents of their stomachs still undigested, a bad sign.

Air Kitty

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Filk of the day: Survival Song. Thanks to Veronica for the link.

Due to a sudden and unexpected rearrangement of my living room, my mac was far, far away from my cable modem. Rather than stretch my favorite crossover ethernet cable across the middle of the room, I went to the Apple Store and got an Airport Express. All the setup software was already on my mac, so I just ran the Airport Setup Assistant and kitty was on the air.

I did have trouble coaxing my free printer into printing through the Airport Express. I followed most of the advice on this printer troubleshooting page, and the step that worked was deleting and recreating the printer queue.

There’s at least one other wireless network in the building, with a cryptic, non-Airport-looking name. This entry was blogged wirelessly.

Happy Belated BRAD!

Friday, October 14th, 2005

Happy Beta Reader Appreciation Day to my underemployed beta readers!

New Canned Emacs

Monday, October 10th, 2005

You may recall that I downloaded a new prefab Emacs a couple of weeks ago after a few of my builds from CVS failed. Emacs turned flakey on me today, so I checked the Apple downloads section and found out that a second build was released just a few days after I got mine: Carbon Emacs, Sept ‘05, v2. Download and enjoy.

Remember, it’s not just a text editor—it’s a way of life!