Test of CricketMoods

 Test of CricketMoods  General, Wordpress  Comments Off on Test of CricketMoods
Aug 292006

I installed a plugin that gives me those silly “Current Mood:” lines on posts. So I’m testing it out. I’ll probably try it for a couple days and decide that this isn’t livejournal, and turn it back off…

Jun 212006

So the nice 120-GB drive that I installed a back in February has started clicking. This is a bad thing. It probably means that the drive head is snapping to one extent or the other of its travel distance. If it happens enough, the drive will permanently fail. As it is, it’s sometimes enough of an error that my laptop will stop recognizing the drive altogether, and I get the nice “no hard drive detected” logo when I reboot.

Needless to say, I am not pleased with this situation.

Luckily, WD has already approved my RMA, and is shipping me an advance replacement. New drive should be here in a week or so (I estimate), and I’ll buy a UPS Ground label (about 6 bucks) and ship the bad drive back to them. I’ll be doing a full random-wipe before I ship it, of course.

There are two irritating parts about all of this.

First (and, I think, the more time-consuming of the two), I need to do a full backup of the old drive, and restore onto the new one. Hopefully this won’t be too bad; I should be able to do it all without too much heartache. The bad part is just waiting for the stupid backup to finish; last time I tried, it ran for about 5 hours before I killed it (and came to work). I think I’ll start the new backup when I get home in this morning, and then do a “catch-up” run when the new drive arrives. Of course, the alternative is to just wait until the drive arrives, then hook it up in the USB enclosure and do the backup straight to that drive instead of using an interim device. Yeah, that’s a great idea. I’ll obviously still be doing a full backup anyway onto the other 120 that I’ve got in the enclosure right now, but I like this other idea; it’ll save me boatloads of headache.

Oh, yeah: second – I have to open my laptop again. And since I don’t have a MacBook, it means about 40 bazillion tiny screws and other pieces instead of just 4 screws and a small memory shield. But this is relatively inexpensive (I just have to pay for return shipping), so I’m willing to accept the hassle. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t done it several times before:

1. I installed the new hard drive
2. When installing the new HD, I forgot to reconnect the mouse. Took laptop apart again to fix that.
3. I installed the new bluetooth module
4. I installed the new SuperDrive
5. When installing the new SuperDrive, I again forgot to reconnect the mouse cable. Grr.

So this will only make the sixth time I’ve had to open it up, and this time I actually have a “black stick” (it arrived the day after the SuperDrive did).

What do I think of MacWorld SF ’06?

 What do I think of MacWorld SF ’06?  Geek Culture, General, Technical  Comments Off on What do I think of MacWorld SF ’06?
Jan 112006

So Apple announced a lot of new stuff on Tuesday at MacWorld San Francisco; am I impressed?  Let’s see:

Steve Jobs started off with the usual crap about Apple sales and revenue; that doesn’t really mean anything to me.  I guess it’s nice that Apple is making money, but it’s not all so exciting to someone who isn’t a stockholder.

And then the new product announcements (AKA the stuff I actually wanted to hear about):
iPhoto 6:  OK, so it’s iPhoto, but they added “photo casting”.  Way to take a meme and expand it, Apple.  So this is really just a way to subscribe to an iPhoto collection that’s been shared.  It’s nice that it’s not permanently linked to .mac, but I’m not sure how useful it’ll be, until 3rd-party applications (like, for example, the popular “Gallery” PHP photo-gallery) reverse-engineer the protocol to add support, so that you can view these “photo casts” online before you subscribe to ’em.  And apparently there’s new photo-editing features, like a full-screen mode and “instant edits” (or whatever terminology Apple uses).  Nifty.  But I’ve got Photoshop.  And Adobe’s new Lightroom (the free public beta is only for the Mac right now) seems to be a replacement for both iPhoto and Aperture, so iPhoto may take a back seat once Adobe pushes Lightroom out of beta.  Pass.
GarageBand 3: Hm.  Let’s see:  all that really changed in GarageBand this time was the addition of the podcast creator.  Granted, it’s way easier to use than Mega Seg or CastBlaster.  But I don’t make podcasts (yet); what’s the point for me?  Pass, until I decide to start writing music or recording a podcast.
iWeb:  This is apparently the “new thing” from Apple’s software division.  OK, it’s a nice web page editor.  The templates are kinda neat, but I’m limited to only using the templates; there’s not an easy way (that I’ve seen so far) of creating my own templates (or, for that matter, starting with a blank page).  Yeah, I can take X random template and modify it to fit my needs, but that’s not really the same thing, ya know?  Maybe Apple will sell “iWeb Theme Packs” just like they sell “Jam Packs” for GarageBand.  Ooh, they could call them “Memory Packs” or something saccharine like that.  The integration with the rest of the iLife suite is nice, but I’m not a big fan of the giant .mac advertisement every time I open iWeb.  And where’s SFTP (or even FTP) publishing to an arbitrary server?  If I have to publish to a folder every time I make a change, and re-upload the entire thing to my hosting provider, it’s probably not something I’m gonna plan on using all the time, you know?  Especially if I create a media-rich site like Apple wants me to, full of pictures and movies.  And if my “podcast” page gets to be more than one or two episodes long, it’d take hours to re-upload the site.  Pass (for now).
iMovie HD 6:  Hm.  I haven’t used iMovie that much, since most of the movies I acquire are already perfectly edited.  But I guess it’s nice that I can now open multiple projects at the same time; the lack of an MDI in previous versions of iMovie was something about which I read a lot of unfavorable reviews on teh Intarwebs. Pass, until I start editing the raw files from my ReplayTV on my laptop.
iDVD 6:  Yeah.  I’ve got DVD Studio Pro.  I didn’t even bother installing iDVD.  Pass.
iTunes 6.0.2: Hm.  I was irritated by the “mini store” when I launched the newest version of iTunes yesterday, especially given the measly 768 vertical pixels on my laptop’s display.  But it was easy enough for me to click the “hide” button and go on with life.  And to all of the privacy nuts out there who are freaking out because Apple is being sent information about what tracks they’ve got selected in iTunes:  I’m concerned about privacy myself, but come on; it’s easy enough to turn off and ignore.  Go after someone who actually means to do evil with your data for a change.  Or stop using the product altogether; sometimes the self-proclaimed “protectors of privacy” on the internet are worse than Jesus’ fan club.  No, I don’t want to be “saved” on this particular issue.  Yes, I’m OK with that.

And that’s iLife ’06. Now, for…
iWork ’06:  Hm.  Let’s see.  I’ve already got Microsoft Office, I don’t produce a newsletter (which is pretty much all Pages seems to do), and I don’t make presentations (which really is all Keynote does).  Pass.

Pro Application “Crossgrades”:  Sweet.  Apple gets an extra $49 from their customers, so that they can run (what appears to be) the exact same software on the new Intel-based Macs.  Hm.  I think that if I were a “Pro”, I’d wait for the next version of these big titles, just so I’d get more for my money than a version of the software title that didn’t require the emulation layer to run.  Pass.

And, the new systems:

iMac:  Hm.  Who would’a guessed that the imac would be the first intel mac?  Let’s see:  lower-end system (although not as low-end as the mini), great for people who don’t care about expansion (and, conveniently, perfect hardware control for Apple).  I like that the systems are supposed to be twice as fast (although of course, having two processor cores probably helps that a bit).  Of course, they used a benchmark program that was optimized for the Intel processor (you know, the opposite of what they did when they spec’d the G5 against Intel chips a few years ago?).  Keeping the price points the same was a nice touch, though.

MacBook:  No, it’s not a piece of bookkeeping software, no matter what the product name might indicate.  It’s a shame the first new Intel-based Mac laptops are “pro” edition laptops rather than iBook reworks; I think I’d have much rather preferred that a lower-cost version was coming out first, like the mini or iBook instead of this new “macbook” product.  It’s nice to see that Apple didn’t strip out the Firewire ports like had been rumored, although I’m a bit saddened to see that they went to a Firewire 400 port instead of the Firewire 800 port that was previously on the PowerBook G4; I guess those pros don’t really need the high-speed Firewire to pull data off of their HD cameras, eh?  Well, OK.  2005 was the year of HD; since it’s 2006 now, I guess we can stop worrying about actually using those nifty new HD products that we bought last year.  The new power cord is a nifty idea, I’ll admit.  I know I’ve come close to knocking my system off of a table (or bed, or desk, or chair, etc) when the cord got tangled on my shoe.  I’ll also mirror the thoughts of a few other Internet people in saying “um, why do I need a remote control for my portable computer?” and “how many professionals need a built-in webcam on their laptop?”

The new Apple/Intel ad was a nice finish.  Shame Intel’s backpedaling now, saying that PCs aren’t boring.

OK, I really don’t like iPhoto at all, any more; this miraculous new “photocasting” that Apple loves so much is only available for the suckers who shell out for a .mac account.  I guess the $79 I paid for iLife ’06 was a complete waste.  They should mention that on the box: “iLife ’06 is $79, but in order to actually use the niftiest features, it’s actually $178.”

Thunderbird and iCal integration?

 Thunderbird and iCal integration?  General, Technical  Comments Off on Thunderbird and iCal integration?
Jan 012006

Update 2009-05-09: I gave up on this long ago, and switched to using Mail.app.  If you haven’t upgraded to the Thunderbird 3.0 beta, give the Lightning plugin a try.

Warning: This is a very tech-heavy post. So look out.

I get calendar events from my co-workers from time to time, and since they all use Outlook (and I refuse to use Entourage), it’s really more of an irritation than anything else; if I want to put those events into my iCal, I have to save the text of the message to a file, then drag it into iCal. And easy as that is, it’s more effort than I want to go to.

So I thought, “this might be a great thing to use Automator for”. Especially since I hadn’t found anything useful for Automator to do up to that point. Trouble is, there’s no actions to add iCal events (that’s .ics files ya know) from arbitrary files into iCal. Luckily, so long as iCal is your default handler for .ics files, simply opening them (the ics files) will create new events in iCal.

So: Continue reading »

WordPress Themes

 WordPress Themes  General, Technical, Wordpress  Comments Off on WordPress Themes
Sep 252004

WordPress 1.3 includes a “Presentation” section in the admin area; its use is to switch between themes that have been installed. But there’s currently little to no documentation about what themes actually are, and how they’re written, how they’re installed, and how they work.

I seem to have figured it all out. At least, I think I have. There’s still some robustness checking I should do, in case specific files in my theme aren’t present, but here are the steps I took to make what you see here into a wordpress theme.

  1. First and foremost, create the style.css for your theme. You will need to make specific additions to the top of the stylesheet page, specifically the following portion:

    Author URI:
    Fill all of those fields out. For “Template”, put the name of the directory you’ll be installing your theme in. In my case, “Template” is “devlogic-condition”. This will enable wp-blog-header.php and other files to actually locate your theme files and use your custom index, header, footer, and sidebar files.
  2. Now, make a directory to hold the actual pages you use to display your site. This includes index.php, wp-comments*.php, wp-header.php, wp-footer.php, and wp-sidebar.php (if you’re basing your theme off of the new “modular” page layout). Copy all of the files you modified (or plan on modifying) to a new directory, and then make a few small changes. In your theme’s index.php file, you should ignore the warning at the top and delete the line “require(‘./wp-blog-header.php’);”. It’s already called by the master index.php file in the webroot, and I’m pretty sure that calling it a second time does nothing more than increase the page load time.
    Then, modify all of the php files you just copied, thusly:
    find all of the lines that use the include() function, and modify the arguments. Change
    include(ABSPATH . '/filename.php');
    include(ABSPATH . "wp-content/${wp_template}filename.php");
    This makes the modular system load your custom header, footer, and sidebar files. It took me a while to figure that out, let me tell you.
  3. copy and/or move the directory everything’s in into your wp-content/themes/ directory, and make sure the dir’s name is the same as the value you entered for “template” in step 1.
  4. Oh, yeah. Once everything’s in place, go to the “Presentation” menu in wp-admin, and enable your theme. If everything worked correctly, you should be able to view your site with your theme instead of whatever was there before. The most dramatic way to see this actually work is to put your theme file into a fresh installation of wordpress 1.3cvs (or release, when it comes out); you will see everything with the nice “default” theme (or “Kubrick”, if it’s there), before enabling your own hard work (or your hacking of someone else’s hard work, whatever).

Yay! Fixed WordPress Paging!

 Yay! Fixed WordPress Paging!  General, Technical, Wordpress  Comments Off on Yay! Fixed WordPress Paging!
Sep 182004

Those nifty “next page” and “previous page” links at the bottom of the page finally work! Here’s how I fixed it. Well, actually, here’s the changes I made that corrected the problem. How I fixed it involved digging through PHP files for about half an hour.

It seems that with the WordPress 1.3 nightlies (and, I assume, the CVS and alpha versions as well), the “blogfilename” option in the wp_options table isn’t populated. I issued this statement in mysql_client to fix it:

update wp_options set option_value=’index.php’ where option_id=2;

and lo and behold: after a refresh the pages actually work correctly! Note: in my wp_options table, option_id 2 was also option_name ‘blogfilename’. If you’re going to try this, please make sure that YOUR option_id 2 is also option_name ‘blogfilename’. That, or use this statement instead:

update wp_options set option_value=’index.php’ where option_name=’blogfilename’;

Of course, I thoroughly suggest you make a backup of your database before changing anything. If you mess up your blog by trying this without checking what your current values are, I can’t be held responsible.

I’m sure there’s an option in the wp-admin section to enter this value appropriately (and if not, I’m sure it’ll be added soon), but I couldn’t find it.

Linux update

 Linux update  General, Linux, Technical  Comments Off on Linux update
Sep 182004

I’d been wondering for the last few weeks what I was doing wrong, such that I was always presented with a “enter super-user password for maintenance, or ^D for normal boot”. Then when my system crashed this morning, and I had to drive home on a break to fix it, I noticed that there was that nice little word “single” on the boot= line in GRUB. Remove that, and presto! The system boots up without me needing to press ^D.

Now if I could only train myself to actually type “vmlinuz” instead of “vmlinux”. That gets me every time.

Incidentally, I recently switched from devfs to udev.. Good stuff. It actually deals with the buggy usb-storage kernel module correctly: Before I switched, when I unplugged my Archos Jukebox, and then plugged it back in, I’d have to manually change the mount command, since the jukebox’d keep being assigned a new SCSI ID. Udev deals with this correctly: “/dev/sda1” is the first SCSI disk connected to the system, regardless of its actual host/bus/target/lun. This is, in my opinion, very useful.

Plus, it makes it so that I can use an automount daemon again, instead of mounting the drive by hand. Since I’m really lazy, this is a good thing.