Monday, December 19, 2011

LibreOffice: Worth Using

A quickie:

Due to the mandatory 'contribution' for Open Source NeoOffice, the Mac optimized version of, I have been testing LibreOffice for many months. At this point I can say:

Get it! I like it!

The current stable version is 3.4.4. Today there is also a new 3.5.0 beta 1with a long list of minor updates.

I'm using LibreOffice 3.4.4 with Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion without the bombing that occurred in many early versions. It has all the features, and niggling annoyances, of OpenOffice. If you're into writing directly into, as well as editing inside a capable but free office suite, this is sweet. The output format is the OpenDocument world standard. But it is capable to doing all the major other format exports as well, including that mess of Microsoft formats. I've found RTF is still the best all around standard, even today, in order to deal with all the legacy word processor users out there.

NeoOffice: Donate if you like it, or compile it from source code yourself. But LibreOffice does a very nice job completely replacing it IMHO. And yes, LibreOffice would like your donation as well!


[What exactly is LibreOffice? It is a branch off the original OpenOffice Open Source project. It is now generally considered to be superior to the ongoing OpenOffice project, which has become bogged down in politics, corporate noise from Oracle and migration of volunteers over to the more ambitious LibreOffice Open Source project. Unlike NeoOffice, LibreOffice is offered in compiled form ready to use. Of the three current flavors of Open Office for Mac users, LibreOffice is consistently at the edge of the progress curve. Its problem in the past has been instability. However, I've found that problem to have largely been solved.]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs Dead From Pancreatic Cancer
At Age 56

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, had died today of pancreatic cancer at age 56. 

Last night I saw Cars 2 in 3-D. In the credits, at the top of the ‘Thanks To’ list was Steve Jobs. 

Considering the joy and creativity Apple computers have given me for the last 20 years I also have to put Steve Jobs at the top of my ‘Thanks To’ list. What a remarkable man. 

Rejoice that Steve Jobs helped all of our lives and revolutionized the computer community. 

Enjoy the next life Steve. (^_^)/

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rosetta Is Gone From Mac OS X Lion:
The Options, Including
A Second Boot Partition

It's official (although never officially stated, that I know of): 
Rosetta is dead and gone in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

I just finished an exhausting search to find any hopeful news of a workaround. After all! There's a workaround for installing Front Row, which was also killed in Lion. (See HERE for the Front Row fix). So why not Rosetta? If you scour through the Lion notes over at MacInTouch you'll find that there is nothing stopping you from installing Rosetta from a Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 DVD. However, it won't work. The best explanation is that Rosetta requires PowerPC framework files from within the System, which were also deleted from Lion. IOW: There aren't any APIs for Rosetta to access. It's inert. It's a dead parrot. Why were the APIs removed? That's a matter of speculation. One guess is that Apple are preparing to allow Mac OS X to run on ARM processors, similar to iOS. (And iOS at this point is just base Mac OS X compiled for ARM with a different GUI on top). (Yes it is! Do your homework and don't argue with me kids. Sheesh. ;-)

The Options

If possible, you could pay for new versions of your applications. Apple left PowerPC CPUs behind in mid-2006. Maybe you should leave behind your old PowerPC apps at this point. But this often difficult or impossible. Some old PPC applications simply don't exist any longer. Or upgrading an app can be is EXPEN$IVE! Or stupid companies like INTUIT have been too lazy to drop their old PPC Carbon code and go to Cocoa Intel CPU processing code. (0_o)

What are the other options?


What I have found as one good alternative is to attempt running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in VIRTUALIZATION via Parallels or VMware. 10.6 Server has been legally running in virtualization for a couple years with Apple's approved. According to its new license, 10.7 Lion client is now legally able to run in virtualization. So why not try running 10.6 Snow Leopard client in virtualization? I haven't done it yet. But if it works, that would be the quickest and easiest way to access Rosetta and the PPC apps it supports. Note that I am not saying this is exactly 'legal'. However, I don't personally expect Apple cares at this point in time.

Second Boot Partition

Personally, I've been using another alternative for years. I call it 'The Other Partition', or just as meaningfully 'The Other Volume'. For intermediate Mac users it's dirt easy to do. You repartition your boot hard drive to have TWO (2) partitions. You can boot from both of them as long as each of them have their own installed operating system. If your Mac hardware can run on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, then why not install Snow Leopard onto one of the partitions?! Then custom install Rosetta onto it as well and all your Rosetta compatible apps will run on it. Install them all into the Applications folder on the Snow Leopard partition! You simply reboot your Mac with the Option key down, choose your Snow Leopard partition and GO!

Therefore, with a reboot, you can run all your oldie but goodie PPC/Rosetta applications. No, it's not convenient. It's merely FUNCTIONAL, which is actually what you want.

What else is a second boot partition good for? I've been using it to repair my main partition every month. It's far easier and more effective than running Disk Utility from a boot DVD. I can also run on it every other hard drive utility I own! That includes DiskWarrier, TechTool Pro, Drive Genius, blahblahblah. I consider it essential.

How do we set up this second partition?

If you're like me, you like to do a low level format of your boot drive every now and again anyway. So after the format, choose in Disk Utility to create two partitions.

Another utility to try is Drive Genius. It has a tool called Repartition that will allow you, if you have enough hard drive space, to add another partition to your already working boot drive. I suspect there are other such utilities as well for Mac.

Please share if you find other useful options for PPC application users running Lion!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

IPV6 Testing Follow-up #1


Now that IPv6 Testing Day is over, a huge chunk of the Internet that cares now has a good idea what problems they have. I heard back again from the great Jason Fesler of with further details about the current state of IPv6 and its impact on users. He suggested reading the following two articles posted at his site: views on 6to4

About the "v6ns" test

The first article discusses the 'transition mechanism' (aka make-shift patch job) to provide internet IPv6 compatibility called 6to4. You can read more about it here:


The second article makes a brief reference to the OpenDNS IPv6 Sandbox, which did NOT work for my Mac. You can read about configuring your Mac to use this sandbox here:

How to Use the OpenDNS IPv6 Sandbox

Despite my FAILed test results, I am going to continue using this sandbox in hopes that either they get it right or I figure out what they're not telling me might be wrong at my end. Today I am adding references to their sandbox in my router settings. Below is a grab of the resulting setting inside my Airport Extreme Base Station. Note the separate line specifically for adding IPv6 DNS Server addresses. Update your router after adding the addresses:

NOTE: This is the stuff of geeks. Do not play along unless you have the experience and patience to deal with its high level of geekiness. At this time, I am not going to teach how to create the proper IPv6 settings beyond what I have already posted. Also be sure to refer back to CNET's article which I linked in my original IPv6 post.

Gradually the clunky stuff will be resolved. But it would be no surprise to find that even after the drop dead date, which IPv6 goes manditory.

Question: So when will IPv6 be manditory?
Answer: There is no actual set date at this point. However, to quote Wikipedia:
The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) suggests that all Internet servers be prepared to serve IPv6-only clients by January 2012.
IOW: Expect there to be a rush to get everyone up to speed starting this fall. It's going to be another 'OMG' panic to get everyone IPv6 capable by New Year's Day.

Question: Are my router, operating system, DNS servers and web browsers ready to do IPv6?!
Answer: It's time to go RTFM! Please do not go around asking other people this question. If you can't find the FM, then check out the websites of your providers. Here is a list of possible answers you will discover there:

A) Yes, everything is adequate. Enjoy.

B) Your router needs a firmware update. Everything else is fine, but be sure you have the latest software updates.

C) You are SOL buddy! Your router is too old and/or your router provider isn't customer satisfaction oriented enough to care. BUY A NEW ROUTER!

D) Your operating system is too old to have a clue about IPv6. Either buy an upgraded version of the OS that is compatible with your hardware. If your hardware is not compatible with the required operating system version, you're SOL buddy! GO BUY A NEW COMPUTER!

Question: Is my Mac compatible with IPv6?
Answer: If your Mac can run at least Mac OS X 10.3.3 and above, you're mostly fine.

Question: What about Mac OS X 10.2.x Jaguar?
Answer: Mac OS X 10.2.x has IPv6 compatibility included. I says so right here:

To quote:

The inclusion of IPv6 in Mac OS X 10.2 keeps the Mac up-to-date with other operating systems and ensures continued access and compatibility with the Internet.... Many of the networking APIs in Mac OS X have been improved to support IPv6.

Wikipedia disagrees, for whatever that's worth.

HOWEVER! You have to turn IPv6 on and configure it. Here is a brief article describing how to enable IPv6 on Mac OS X 10.2.x Jaguar using the Terminal:

IPv6 Day - Mac OS

Question: Is ye olde Mac OS 9.2.2 IPv6 compatible?
Answer: No. You're hosed.

Question: What about Mac OS X 10.0 and 10.1?
Answer: No. You're hosed.

Question: So is Mac OS X 10.6.x Snow Leopard totally RadiKewl with IPv6? It has to be! Right?
Answer: Nope! It's NOT. Here is a relevant article over at Wikipedia, as 2011-05-28:

Comparison of IPv6 support in operating systems

To quote:

DNS name resolution in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) fails for hosts with a CNAME record.(Many publicly-accessible hosts have CNAME records.) No public APIs work to get the IPv6 host address.
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard also has no support for IPv6 relevant 'DHCPv6' or 'ND RDNSS'.

And what is DHCP? The short answer is that it allows your computer to be handed an IP address by your router or your ISP's own routers. In the case of DHCPv6, you can be handed an IPv6 address. Without DHCPv6 you CANNOT be handed an IPv6 address. Right now, this situation is of minor concern. Check back in January 2012. 

Hopefully, Apple will provide an update to their routers, as well as Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, that will rectify the situation. If Apple do not include DHCPv6 in 10.7 Lion, you will have the opportunity to scream bloody murder at them, always a good time for one and all.

And what is ND RDNSS? ND stands for 'Neighborhood Discovery Protocol'. (Why isn't it abbreviated as NDP? Ask the dweebs who abbreviated it. I hate acronyms!) What about 'RDNSS'? That stands for 'Recursive DNS Server'. There's lots more techy information about the IPv6 Neighborhood Discovery Protocol here:

At this point in my article, I have to defer to greater experts than I to explain these finer details of IPv6. What I could find about Recursive DNS Servers was down at the source level of technical papers, which is far beyond the scope of my intended audience.

Let me therefore refer you to The TCP/IP Guide ('A TCP/IP Reference You Can Understand!') for further details. This is the starting page for their section on IPv6:


If you, like me, are now buried in a mountain of acronymic alphabet soup, haunting your waking thoughts as well as your darkest nightmares, I highly recommend going to the grocery story and wreaking revenge through the buying and consumption of your favorite brand of alphabet soup. You may also find various brands of crunchy alphabet oat cereals. As you consume the these alphabetic nutrients, think to yourself about chewing up all the nasty tech acronyms, protocols, processes, code and nomenclature. Get into a nom nom rhythm and think of yourself as the master of what you once thought was unfathomable. No letters are your equal. Technology is nothing more than another human creation. It gets complicated. It gets buggy and obtuse. Persistence, the march of your nom nom teeth on every delicious bite, will get you through. Patience will help you spoon down a whole bowl full of techy goodness.

And hopefully other people, such as myself, will help translate geek-speak into the vernacular, enabling all of mankind to comprehend and put technology to work toward the improvement of our tech enabled lives! 

(Cue the marching band...)


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

IPv6 Testing
(revised 2011-06-09 3:00 pm ET)

Hi kids. Today, 2011-06-08, is IPv6 Testing Day. Below is some information about it as well as some useful information as we progress toward manditory use of IPv6 across the Internet. I hope you find it to be a good starting point in your testing.

Today a collection of web companies are trying out IPv6 on their servers to see how it runs, or stumbles, or crawls. Therefore, it is likely there will be some messed up stuff going on across the Internet. Here is a good article on the subject. It is specific to Macs, but actually applies across all platforms:

Preparing OS X for World IPv6 Day on June 8

Some of the problems you may encounter during these tests

• Internet servers not responding
• intermittent connectivity after delays
• unresponsive browsers if you use a built-in search field
• slow loading and pauses in downloads, as well as incomplete downloads; and
• slow or incomplete actions for Internet-related activities that aren't Web browsing, such as syncing and e-mail.

Here are some Apple support articles on the subject:

About World IPv6 Day

IPv6 troubleshooting

What is IPv6?

Configuring IPv6 in Mac OS X v10.6.7 or later

You can find further related articles using this search link:
Here are some IPV6 pages to try out in order to see if you have an IPV6 configuration problem somewhere in your computer or your router:
1) The IPv6 test page:

2) The IPv6 ONLY (no IPv4) test page:
[NOTE: Thank you to Jason Fesler. He runs the site and has been extremely helpful sorting out my own test results. As I have revised this article it is primarily thanks to his help that it has become more accurate and useful.]
This is going to be the usual 'oops the geeks messed it up' routine whereby normal people are at the mercy of geeky people who themselves are at the mercy of those who invented all this stuff. IOW: Chaotic.
I am used to all this after 20 years in the industry. It's nothing new. I expect it. So hang in there if you have IPv6 problems. All of us have about a year to sort it all out before it's manditory. Talk to your router maker, your OS maker, etc. and find out how to get it all working, if it isn't already.
In particular, IPv6 is going to be a bit of a PITA for people with very old equipment and operating systems. There are likely ways to work it out, such as OS updates and router firmware updates.


With the help of Jason Fesler (noted above) and my own insights, I was able to get an IPv6 functionality score of 7/10. One of the points off suggested that I was unable to access IPv6 pages, which proved to be wrong. Therefore, I'd personally put the score at 8/10.

Do I consider this a total 'success'? OF COURSE NOT! I'm seeing lots of back patting articles about what a success IPv6 testing was on June 8th. Clearly it was NOT entirely a total success. Read on...

What I did:

1) As per the CNET article, I made certain that my Mac was properly setup to use IPv6.

2) I changed my router to use IPv6 Mode: Tunnel. I'm using Apple's Airport Extreme Base Station. Here is the setting:

The alternative settings you do NOT want are:
 'Link-local only' (which is strictly for use on LANs, not the internet), and "Host". The host setting is NOT for normal users. It is for those using their 'router' as only a server host to the Internet. If you connect to your router to get to the Internet, you do NOT want the Host setting. If you are using Mac OS X Server, check for details on hosting in its documentation.

After applying the 'Tunnel' setting to my AEBS I got THE YELLOW LIGHT on my router. Here is what it looks like in the settings:

The light indicates that your router has an 'IPv6 Relay Error'. If you click on THE YELLOW LIGHT icon, you get to the details pane:

Don't Panic! This isn't your fault and is one of the bugs still to sort itself out on the Internet. For now, you might as well ignore the problem by clicking on the check box next to 'IPv6 Relay Error', then go to the bottom right of the pane and click on the 'Update' button. The router will then turn OFF the yellow light so you don't have to deal with this particular error any more.

Note, once the entire Internet is forced to go IPv6, we'll have to start worrying about IPv6 Relay Errors. Therefore, expect to see this issue appear again within the next year. If we're lucky, our ISPs and the rest of the Internet will get it right and we can ignore these errors forever. Crossed-fingers.

3) Next up: Your DNS Servers. I've been using for my DNS servers. I'm not going to go into details about how you set up a 3rd party for your DNS servers. Just suffice it to say that you can, as opposed to the default DNS servers your ISP provides automatically in your settings.

I was very sad to find that is not IPv6 ready. I was pleased to read in their blog that they are testing an 'IPv6-compliant DNS sandbox'. You can read about it here:

I tested their DNS sanbox. It too failed. I got a 0/10 consistently when testing with it. I attempted to post a comment to them on their blog. They never posted it. Then never posted anyone's comments! To me that implies that everyone else failed as well. I haven't heard from them via eMail either. Disappointing. There is always the possibility that something was wonked at my end. However, my success when NOT using their IPv6 DNS sandbox suggests otherwise.

Instead, I bit the bullet and let my ISP set my DNS servers. I use Time Warner's RoadRunner. They've pulled severely dirty tricks on their customers in keeping with the Marketing Moron tradition. Therefore, I DON'T TRUST TIME WARNER. But for the sake of testing, I let their deceitfulness slide and used their DNS servers.

Success! This is when I got an 7/10 IPv6 test score. Time Warner's DNS servers are pretty much IPv6 ready. Kewlness.

If there had been enough time, I would have tested every other DNS server I could lay my hands on. Instead I had an evening of dining and romance. Sorry. No doubt there will be ongoing testing and reporting about every DNS server. At some point the hammer will meet the anvil and the lagging DNS servers will either die or be forced to get with IPv6. No doubt that will be fascinating to watch. Hopefully you will find it all just works. Imagine that.


As of this revision of the article, IPv6 Test Day is over and I have nothing more to add. If I discover further details regarding IPv6 and the Mac, I will provide further articles.

Share and Enjoy,


Monday, June 6, 2011

The Death Of MobileMe:
What's Being Lost

At today's WWDC keynote, Apple announced a new FREE service for Apple users called iCloud. It requires Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, arriving in July. It integrates three (only three) aspects of MobileMe and adds in six further services. What you essentially get is 5 GB for web space to use for syncing all your Apple devices, freeing you from having to use your computer as a digital hub, mostly. Now iCloud is your digital hub. You also get a free Apple eMail account with plenty of space, far more than I currently use. Read all about it here:

Apple iCloud

Apple also posted a notice today that all current MobileMe users can access all of its services through June 30, 2012. That's over a year! Very kewl. You can read the death notice and transition details here:

MobileMe Obituary

MobileMe Transition

But then what?

Here is what is being lost with the death of MobileMe:

1) Your Public folder. No more sharing with others of anything. :(

2) Your website. This includes the web page for your Public folder AND any website you may have running within your MobileMe space. :(

3) 15 GB of web space. iCloud only gives you 5 GB. Yes, you don’t have to waste your 5 GB on photos and iTunes. But how about VIDEO and your massive hard drive BACKUP and the backups of bookmarks etc. from other apps. Apparently there is no option to even buy further space. That means you’re kicked out the door, seek web space elsewhere. :(

4) Your iDisk. It could hold ANYTHING with full control of the directories. Entirely gone. :(

5) Your Gallery. No more pictures and videos to share with grandma, or the grandkids, or anyone else. This is besides the loss of your Public folder. :(

6) Your Groups. Not that I personally care, but so long to that option! :?

Thankfully, I’ve got my own dedicated 24/7 server running on the Internet using Mac OS X Server. I can make up for the loss of all of the above on my own at home. :cool:

But how many other people have their own Internet server? Isn’t this Apple CHASING AWAY customers? Aren’t they FORCING people to look elsewhere for these services?
IMHO: Bad move. 

Dear Apple,
Please take the next year to change your mind. Please provide an option to preserve ALL of the above, or at least direct users to comparable services.

In a future article, I'll provide my own list of alternatives. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Planamesa Charges For NeoOffice 3.2:
"Required Donation"
vs Requested Donation


Please Note: I am not a lawyer and an only provide here my personal speculation about this situation. Therefore, nothing I state here is definitive. I have to leave the resolution of this situation to legal experts.

This past week, Planamesa revealed that they are charging $10 or more for a compiled copy of NeoOffice version 3.2. NeoOffice is derived from OpenOffice and therefore must adhere to the licensing required by OpenOffice in its derivative products.

What has created controversy, and what may be a matter of illegal behavior, is that Planamesa call the payment they 'require' a 'donation.' It is not possible to require a donation. A donation can only be freely given and cannot affect your access to anything covered by a donation. In other words, NeoOffice is required to be free to everyone who wishes to NOT provide a 'donation.'

Having reviewed the licensing for OpenOffice, I have found that Planamesa us provide open, or 'free', access to all source code using and derived from OpenOffice source code. They have in fact done that. Instructions for downloading and compiling NeoOffice v3.2 source code on a properly configured Mac is provided HERE.

Is Planamesa able to request donations? Obviously they are. Is Planamesa able to require payment for NeoOffice? Yes they are. This is made clear by reading through both the OpenOffice license, GNU LGPL v3 (Lesser General Public License) required by the Free Software Foundation, as well as their 'Free Software Definition'. As is stated in the Definition:
“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”
. . .
Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere.
. . .
When talking about free software, it is best to avoid using terms like “give away” or “for free,” because those terms imply that the issue is about price, not freedom.
 It is well worth reading through the details of each of these relevant documents in order to understand the intended meaning of 'free' software, as opposed to software for which a fee cannot be charged. The only thing required to be 'free' in both senses is the source code for NeoOffice.

Before reading through these documents, I was as confused as any neophyte as to the specific meaning of 'free' in the context of Open Source software. For most computer users, there is no comprehension of the difference between 'source code' and 'compiled code'. Planamesa continue to adhere to the GNU LGPL v3 license when they charge money for the compiled version of NeoOffice 3.2. It was through their kindness to the computer community that they did not previously charged for compiled versions of NeoOffice and that the compiled version 3.1.2 of NeoOffice through Patch 8 remains free of charge.

What is clearly wrong is their continued use of the word 'donation' when applied to what is undeniably an actual charge for compiled NeoOffice v3.2. There is no such thing a 'required donation'. Let's delve into the obvious. Here is one definition of 'donation' taken from Apple's provided New Oxford American Dictionary:

donation |dōˈnā sh ən|
something that is given to a charity, esp. a sum of money : a tax-deductible donation of $200....
• the action of donating something.
ORIGIN late Middle English : via Old French from Latin donatio(n-), from the verb donare, based on donum ‘gift.’
Compare this definition to that for the word 'charge':
charge | ch ärj|
verb [ trans. ]
1 demand (an amount) as a price from someone for a service rendered or goods supplied : the restaurant charged $15 for dinner | [with two objs. ] he charged me 20,000 lire for the postcard | [ intrans. ] museums should charge for admission.
• ( charge something to) record the cost of something as an amount payable by (someone) or on (an account) : they charge the calls to their credit-card accounts.
 Clearly, Planamesa are asking a CHARGE for their software. The 'required donation' phrase is incoherent as there is no freely given 'gift' involved at all. The CHARGE is MANDITORY. A DONATION is NEVER manditory.

Anecdote Corner:
I recall visiting a church in England where everyone was queued up to pay the 'donation' to get in and look around at the architecture. Being a dirt poor student at the time, I said to the lady at the booth that I was not going to give a donation. She became thoroughly huffy and rude, attempting to shame me into handing over the requested specific donation. I said no. After her mental attack had ended, I was of course allowed through the queue into the church, as is ever the case when one does NOT provide an actual 'donation'.

Is it possible to download the compiled version of NeoOffice v3.2 without gifting Planamesa a donation? No it is not. That is because a charge is required, NOT a 'donation'.

That's extent of the contention over NeoOffice v3.2 at this point. Of course this is complicated by Planamesa's NeoOffice project being nonprofit, essentially a charity, which by definition only accepts payment as donations, not charges. But a 'donation' is NOT what they are 'requiring', obviously. One cannot 'require' a 'donation' at any time unless one is a crook using deceitful verbiage, such as might be the case with the Mafia requiring a 'donation' for their services, meaning that you either pay up or you won't get the services.

The simple solution is for Planamesa to return to the actual way one runs a nonprofit organization and only ASK for a donation.

Meanwhile, I will be downloading and compiling the FREE source code for NeoOffice v3.2 myself. Amusingly, once I have done so, according to the GNU license and definition of 'free software', I too am able to charge money to anyone who may wish to have my compiled copy. Please send me $10 for each copy you would like and I will provide you with a URL from which you can download it as a .DMG file. (This is offer is not intended to be a factual statement ;-).

Does my charging for compiling OpenOffice's and Planamesa's code sound fair to you? What if I instead called it a donation but I wouldn't give it to you until you paid up? According to the applicable GNU licensing, I can charge you money for my compiled code. It's legal. But is it legal if I change the name of that charge to a 'donation'? Or is it merely a question of mangled and destroyed semantics?

It's going to be interesting to see what happens in this case. I'm wondering if the EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation) will speak up on the matter. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, if you'd like to entirely steer clear of this strangeness, I highly recommend using LibreOffice, another OpenOffice branch project, which is entirely free of charge, donations  requested.

[Clearly, I have over-explained my point of view regarding this matter. But I consistently find that in this sort of situation it is extremely useful to be more than clear. Thank you for your patience.]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

RIAA Shows Its True Colors

For years I have made it clear that the music industry has been busy destroying itself through it's parasitic and disrespectful behavior toward both its musicians and its customers. Their behavior fits perfectly into the biznizz (as opposed to business) concepts of Marketing Morons and Marketing-As-Management. The general problem with this self-destructive practice is outright hatred toward their clients, accompanied by corresponding behavioral acts of Abuse.

The response of clients to Marketing Morons and Marketing-As-Management is reciprocal abuse. When someone hates us, we humans tend to hate them back and provide our own corresponding behavioral acts.

The largest music corporations use a group they created called the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) as their lobbying and persecution arm of what I call the Corporate Oligarchy. Part of what the RIAA lobbies against and persecutes is reciprocal abuse from their clients. The trail of client abuse against the recording industry is long. The first large client revolt occurred with the creation of Napster. The revolt continues today with the Gnutella network. In response, the RIAA has been prosecuting individual music sharing users as well as large organizations, attempting to point their finger at them all as the actual culprits in the decline of the music industry.

Nothing says what the RIAA is really about better than what they recently did in their court case against LimeWire:

Judge: RIAA request for trillions in LimeWire copyright case is 'absurd'
The music industry’s contention that file-sharing software maker LimeWire owes it trillions of dollars in damages for enabling the illegal distribution of 11,000 copyrighted songs is “absurd,” a federal judge has ruled.
In response, Ray Beckerman, lawyer representing the defendants in the RIAA music piracy lawsuits, has said:
“The RIAA’s argument was totally absurd, and contrary to the statute.... Even the RIAA had never made that argument until late in the case. If I were Judge Wood, I would have ordered them to show cause why they should not have been sanctioned for making [such] a frivolous argument.”
Judge Kimba Wood, judge in the case has stated that the RIAA's damages request amounts to:
"... more money than the entire music industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877."
Such is the level of insanity among the companies represented by the RIAA.

My personal response to RIAA abuse and madness is to boycott their company products and to instead support independent musicians and music companies who still support ART instead of customer abuse. I am also supportive of the victims of recent the RIAA's abusive and inflated royalty fees, Internet radio.

Please support independent music, if only to provide musicians their livelihood and to create a more user and musician friendly music business of the future.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When YouTube videos go BLACK:
The Adobe Shockwave Player Mess

Two recent changes in the Internet world have conspired to create a problem for Mac users attempting to play YouTube videos. The problem: You attempt to play a YouTube video but all you get is a black, inert rectangle. It's dead. Nothing happens.

Rather than pull your hair out, reinstall everything or think your Mac is broken, here is what's going on:

I) Adobe just recently caught up with the real world, nearly 6 (SIX) years LATE, and started providing a 64-bit version of their Shockwave Player. Gee thanks Adobe. About time, don't you think?

The problem is that you must have Safari running in the same mode as the version of Shockwave Player you have installed. Therefore:
A) If you install the 32-bit version of the Shockwave Player plug-in, you must run Safari in 32-bit mode. You can do this in Safari's Get Info box.


B) If you install the 64-bit version of the Shockwave Player plug-in, you must run Safari in 64-bit mode. Be sure to check if this is the case in Safari's Get Info box by verifying that you are NOT running Safari in 32-bit mode.
II) The other half of the problem is that Google forgot to tell anyone that they are now offering videos on YouTube in .SWF format. This is the Shockwave format, NOT the Flash format .FLV. Therefore the videos play using the Shockwave Player plug-in, NOT the Flash Player plug-in.

Once you match up your bit versions of Safari and Shockwave Player, you'll find your YouTube functionality is fine. Adobe warn about this incompatibility problem in one direction, but not the other. Google don't warn you at all. (No wonder both companies have legions of anti-fans).

Also keep in mind that Adobe is in the midst of a flood of security flaws being discovered in their software. This problem is particularly critical with the Shockwave Player, Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat because the file formats they play are universal on the Internet. This means that it is CRITICAL to keep up with the entirely IRREGULAR releases of security updates from Adobe. Totally ignore Adobe's idiotic quarterly 'In-Band' schedule for releasing updates. Scheduling security updates is for fools. (I'm talking to you too Microsoft!)

Here is where to keep track of Adobe's latest security holes and updates:

Adobe Security Bulletins and Advisories

Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) Blog

You can pick which version of Shockwave Player you would like to download and install (32 or 64-bit) HERE.

I regularly rake Adobe over the coals at my Mac-Security blog.

You can read about 32-bit mode versus 64-bit mode at

And yes kids, all of the above indicates that we are still in The Stone Age of Computing.



Friday, February 11, 2011

Adventures In MacPorts:
Installing MPlayer 1.0rc4 and
Myst Online: URU Live Again

MacPorts is only for advanced Mac users. Even advanced users will find MacPorts diabolical at times. My experience today was a very frustrating adventure. Its goal: To install the new MacPort of MPlayer version 1.0rc4.

I've been playing with MacPorts for a few years and am pleased to see the list of available ports continually growing. They have afforded me some terrific UNIX functionality that does not ship with Mac OS X. But learning about what MacPorts are, how to install them and how to use them is difficult. The learning curve is steep, the documentation is minimal, the help you'll find online is flaky and MacPorts itself can be imperfect and daunting. I am loathe to tell the tale of my adventure today because it will cause many to run away screaming with fear! But MPlayer is a big deal program and someone has got to publish on the net how to install it in spite of MacPorts HELL! So let me be your guide:


A couple months back I installed the very latest version of MacPorts. To access the ports listing and install them I use a clunky but useful free program called Porticus. There is a paid shareware alternative, but it has fallen into disrepair and is too expensive. The one thing wrong with Porticus is that you have to force it to "Reload Ports" after every installation. It pretends to do so by itself but FAILs. This sort of annoyance is entirely typical at the hacker level of users. But I got used to forcing Porticus reloads and otherwise enjoy it.


Knowing the new version of MPlayer was available, I checked Porticus and joyfully found it available as a MacPort. However, it had a couple prerequisite installations. When this occurs, the ports you don't yet have installed are listed in red. Therefore, I set about installing them. Unfortunately, the first of these ports was impossible to install! It consistently FAILed with errors that said what was at the source site was an HTML file and that the MD5 check didn't match. Therefore, I looked around in the MacPorts directory and what I discovered blew my mind. Someone had tossed in a bizarro HTML file that essentially said the equivalent of "Sorry sonny! You can't get there for here!" Check this out:
[html stuff...]
This space is managed by You have attempted to access a URL that either never existed or is no longer active. Please check the source of your link and/or contact the maintainer of the link to have them update their records.
[html stuff...]
This note was included at part of the MacPorts installation and the note was WRONG. Because this stupid note was tossed it there, I could not install the prerequisite port and therefore could not install MPlayer! There was no way around it!

Except I am used to developers and hackers being a PITA. I went looking for what I wanted on the net anyway and sought out a way to install it in spite of the MacPorts bungle. And I succeeded. And yes kids, garbage like this proves that we remain in The Stone Age Of Computing. (0_o)

The impossible-to-install port file was libmad-0.15.1b.tar.gz. I Googled it. I found it. Here it is:

MAD (MPEG Audio Decoder)

Despite the dumbass note stuck in MacPorts, the file is at SourceForge, is downloadable and is installable, dammit!

After downloading the file, I tried a couple ways to install it myself. First I used the Terminal, using the instructions in the included ReadMe. Then I tried the same thing using the X11 CLI. But I was a dope to bother with it because the installation was put into the wrong location, not into MacPorts where I wanted it. Therefore, I went looking around. At first I thought I'd have to post a ticket to the MacPorts group about the problem. I went over to the MacPorts Guide and checked the tickets section. There I read about the Problem Hotlist page and checked it out. Skimming down the page I found this section:
Fetch failures

If fetch failed for a port, you can still get the distfile from anywhere else. For example, the  main MacPorts distfiles mirror contains most ports' distfiles, or maybe the homepage of the software lists alternative download locations for source tarballs. Just download the distfile and save it to ${prefix}/var/macports/distfiles//. Make sure you get a file with exactly the same name (watch out for .tar.gz and .tar.bz2!) If a port clean --all has been done the distfile directory will have been removed. The directory for each port is created at the beginning of the fetch phase.

Note: Checksum failures after a fetch are typically a separate issue. See the FAQ.
Yeah well, I knew that libmad was NOT at the MacPorts distfiles location on the Internet. Beats me why. However, I was pleased to see that I could bypass the idiotic note about libmad and replace it with the actual file. After searching for the correct directory, which is NOT clear from the documentation quoted above, this is where I successfully put it:


Having trashed the moronic (am I out of derisive adjectives yet?) MacPorts note, I replaced it with the libmad-0.15.1b.tar.gz file.

I then went back into Porticus and successfully performed the installation of libmad. That then allowed me to successfully install MPlayer. I then verified that MPlayer was there and started in reading the man page. Consider me happy-smiley-shiny and ready to play with MPlayer. :-)

Nightmare much? I run into ridiculous chaos like this regularly. It is part of hacker level work on any computer platform. Code developers are brilliant. My lame skills only let me bludgeon through code writing. But much as I envy great coders, they are not necessarily good at other organization skills. To succeed as a hacker level user you have to be patient and tenacious at overcoming other-people organizational deficits. You have to learn to out-think the software and the developer.

Myst Online: URU

I had a similar nightmare last month getting the Myst Online: URU Live Again MacPort installed and running on my Mac.

As an early Myst adopter, I have been a fan of the sequels ever since. Cyan create my kind of games. Sadly Cyan succumbed to the biznizz anti-ethic of focusing on money rather than the customer experience as the bottom line. This is consistently how great companies become derelict. (Apple have been a success, even in hard times, by keeping the customer as priority #1). This lead Cyan to focus only on the Windows PC market for their final project in the Myst series, the online game entitled URU. Considering that the original Myst was developed using Apple's Hypercard, this was a huge slap in the face of Mac users! Eventually a barely working Mac version was offered. Then URU rolled over and died. Thankfully, a transition was created to make URU a free public game. A new server was found and so URU lives again.

Thank kind people for providing a way to play URU online via MacPorts. There are two options for installing and running URU, one using WINE and another using Cider. I was unfamiliar with Cider, which is a Windows gaming engine for Macs from Transgaming. You can read about Cider HERE and HERE.

I installed the WINE version but totally FAILed to get it running. Yes kids, WINE is another one of those flaky, annoying, tweeks required, poorly documented hacker level technologies. If you pay for it via CrossOver, it can work very nicely. But installing WINE via MacPorts and getting it to work can be very infuriating. I ended up deleting the URU WINE installation by hand.

Then I installed the Cider version. URU now works beautifully! Then, since URU takes up over 3 GB of disk space, I used symbolic links (NOT aliases!) to move the whole thing over to an external USB drive with total success. Since I am running on a MacBook 2GHz, I don't have the best of graphics hardware. In particular, the roving 3D wire-frame characters, most of whom are real players, resolve poorly. But everything else in the game is incredibly beautiful and fun to use. I'm enthralled. If you're into the Myst series, I highly recommend the Cider URU MacPort.

. . .

If you found this article useful, I'm pleased. If it made your hair stand on end, I'm not surprised. There is a temperament one has to develop in order to deal with today's level of hacked together software. If you can't get there, then don't worry about it. Instead stick with the more user-friendly software, of which there is plenty. Some day The Stone Age Of Computing will transition into something much more humane, or so we hope.