• [Powerbook Power!]

    I love my PowerBook. I have a 17″ 1-GHz G4 AlBook. This isn’t my first PowerBook either. I have an old 333-MHz G3 “Lombard” in a bookshelf acting as a file server and remote connection box. There’s an even older PowerBook 1400 also floating around. As you might guess, I’ve been laptop-empowered for a number of years now (it’s almost ten!) where I don’t have a desktop computer. It’s very convenient being able to take your life with you on the go, especially when your life involves multiple areas: web development, university-level teaching, and Ph.D. research.
    My only complaint about PowerBooks is the chips in them are usually well behind the desktop in terms of power. Apple’s just released a speedbumped PowerBook, but it’s still only a G4 chip and 1.6 GHz at that (OK, it’s faster than mine, but still!). Compare that with the desktop G5 offerings or even the dual G4 towers. My two-year-old PowerBook is only a little above the minimum specification for playing World of Warcraft. (-: So, as you might gather, this isn’t much of a complaint. My Lombard stood me in good stead for all three of my spheres in life for just over three years. This one will probably go that long too. I’m not sorry about the investment in the least, even though laptops are more expensive. Go for it!
    Do strongly consider buying AppleCare for your laptop. The only things you can cheaply replace in them are memory and hard drives. Everything else costs big bucks if it has a problem. AppleCare is expensive, but it’s worldwide coverage and good peace of mind. I’ve never been sorry about AppleCare on a portable product.

  • [Cool Calendar Terminal Trick]

    If you’re comfortable with the terminal, try out the following cool BSD-like trick on your OS X machine:

    more /usr/share/calendar/calendar.* | grep `date +”%m/%d”`

    Suddenly, you have your own “This Day in History.” It gives a synopsis, for the day, of important events — holidays, famous birthdays, etc. Today’s output wasn’t that inspiring, but who knows what tomorrow will bring!

    05/26 Jim Pirzyk <pirzyk@FreeBSD.org> born in Chicago, Illinois, United States, 1968
    05/26 Congress sets first immigration quotas, 1924
    05/26 Al Jolson born, 1886

  • [X11 Xghghg!hfgdg!!!]

    I was trying to get X11 launching applications from the department’s Solaris server again. As before, I couldn’t immediately get it to work because of “magic cookie” authentication issues. I reviewed my previous notes which pointed to an article at MacWrite.com which might have helped before, but it was suddenly unavailable. The WayBack machine to the rescue. As soon as I had edited my /etc/ssh_config file to include the following information, I was good to go again:

    Ciphers blowfish-cbc, aes128-cbc, 3des-cbc, blowfish-cbc, cast128-cbc, arcfour, aes192-cbc, aes256-cbc
    Compression yes
    ForwardX11 yes
    Protocol 2,1
    RhostsAuthentication no
    RSAAuthentication no
    UseRsh no

    Note: It may be necessary to take out the extra spaces between items in the Ciphers list.

    That, of course, assumed I had already had an entry in my ~/.cshrc file to the effect of:

    setenv DISPLAY :0.0

    Then, I can simply use a variant of the following to, for example, launch dtterm:

    ssh -X eingang@machine_name.com /usr/dt/bin/dtterm

    MATLAB, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to work at all. It used to generate all kinds of font errors looking for various Sun fonts, but it did launch. Now it launches with all the font errors (see sample below), shows the graphical about box and then we’re in the command line environment instead of the GUI development environment.

    Font specified in font.properties not found [ urw itc zapfdingbats medium r normal * %d * * p * sun fontspecific]
    Font specified in font.properties not found [ urw itc zapfdingbats medium r normal * %d * * p * sun fontspecific]

    Note: All the ‘-’ characters appearing inbetween [] above have been changed to spaces to render better in HTML.

    I’ve mailed the Mac technical support person to see if they have any ideas as to why it no longer works and how it might be possible to fix the font errors.

  • [Exult in Exile!]

    EinSweetie and I have just gone back and started playing Myst: Exile again from the beginning. He bought the deluxe edition when it first came out as a present for me, but I put so little priority on game playing in my life that I never really had the chance to get far in it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve finished Riven yet, which is something I was trying to do prior to starting on Exile.
    I’ve always loved the Myst genre and not just because it was first a Mac game. The games have always just been so beautiful to look at, with each subsequent one getting better and better in terms of the audio-visual experience. I also like that they’re not complicated to learn how to play. If you can point and click, you’ve basically mastered the interface. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to play by any stretch of the imagination. I remember putting Myst down for more than 6 months because I was stuck on a puzzle and refused to get help. It turned out that the puzzle was a little glitchy but Riven, too, had its share of puzzles that I don’t think I would have easily solved in a reasonable amount of time without help. The big danger in these kind of games is that the puzzle solutions are too arbitrary; that the environment doesn’t supply sufficient clues to actually solve the puzzles. For the most part, the Myst series has avoided this, supplying an enjoyable level of difficulty.
    What lies ahead for us in our Exile? In three or four hours on a Saturday evening, we explored the terrain of J’nanin fairly thoroughly and were able to enter the “central tusk” plus the “red tusk.” We entered anothert tusk as well, but it has no floor, so we can’t yet get at the book it contains. The “red” tusk has taken us to the world of Voltaic where we’re happily playing with dams, water, and power. There’s much left to explore of Voltaic. Will we uncover the secrets of Releeshan or even reach it? Adventure on!