RubyOSA - don't forget the docs!


A really quick time for anyone on OSX.

RubyOSA is a great interface to the AppleScript APIs available to most applications. The only problem with it is that the APIs of many apps are undocumented, disappointingly especially for Apple's apps, so there's a handy little command that can generate these docs for you:

rdoc-osa --name (appname)


rdoc-osa --name iPhoto

This will create an rdoc-style document structure in a directory called "doc" in your current working directory, so just launch in the index.html file in your browser and get coding!

Really excellent stuff.

VIA USB PCI card unreliable on OSX


Here's a frustrating one. I inherited a PC recently that had a USB 2.0 PCI card which I figured I'd try to get to work in my Mac. The card is based on the VIA VT6212 chipset and after some searching I found official drivers for the card (that only work with G4 Macs). Well, after rebooting the Mac the card seemed to work fine - it showed up in the system profiler and I could work with devices connected to it without any problems. At that point I decided to leave it for the night (it is set to go to sleep after 30 mins), so this morning went to see how it was doing only to discover the machine had locked up. It appears that there's a major problem with the VIA drivers that cause the Mac to not waken up properly after going into sleep mode. Rather unfortunate as I was looking forward to having the extra USB ports. So, I suspect if I hadn't set the machine to go into sleep mode it would be fine, but that isn't something I'm interested in doing. Ah well, back to ebay I suppose.

Labtec wireless keyboard+mouse for free (review)


Here's a great deal I just came across tonight. Last night I dropped a full cup of hot Barry's tea on my keyboard so, rather than sticking it in the washing machine and hoping for the best, I went shopping for a new keyboard. As it turns out, most of the keyboards on the market fail two very simple requirements:

  • The six key insert/delete/page-up/down block should be three keys across and two down.
  • The function keys should have a default action to work as a function key.

For some reason both Logitech and Microsoft got it in their thick skulls a few years ago that everyone would rather have a cramped six-key block and wanted to press a special key before the function keys worked as advertised, so for the last few years it has been very difficult to find anything else.

Beyond those two basic requirements I also needed:

  • USB support, preferably directly on the keyboard but an adapter would do.
  • Basic volume controls - nothing fancy, just simple volume up/down keys.
  • Those special Mac keys, if possible, but I can live without them.
  • Not made my Microsoft :-)
  • It doesn't have to be wireless, and it doesn't have to include a mouse.

There are a few keyboards that fit all of the above, but unfortunately the most likely candidate, the Logitech S530 kit runs $80, a bit rich for my tastes right now.

After trying several stores, including buying a Micro Innovations keyboard that will go back to the store as it has a really bad key layout (I made the mistake of not checking first), I happened across what I think will work out just fine, despite failing some of the requirements.

The Labtech Media Wireless Desktop is a PS/2 keyboard + mouse set that retails for $40 that on a normal day I wouldn't think much of, but Radioshack has it on sale for $20 and then has two $10 mail-in rebates that make it completely free (excluding taxes) - what a deal! What's even better, only one of the two rebates has a limit on the number that can be submitted, so ultimately you could have a whole bunch of these for $10 each!

Having been using it for about an hour, now, I must say that I'm learning to live with the keyboard's small shortcoming. As intimated I needed a USB keyboard to work with my Mac, but luckily I had a PS/2-to-USB adapter which made it work. This has one side effect that I'll cope with - I can't do shortcuts of more than three keys and it drops the keypress if the keys are held in for more than two seconds, nothing earth shattering but occasionally annoying.

Beyond that little niggle, the keyboard and mouse are proving to be very good. The keyboard itself is very light so takes a little getting used to if you sit around with it on your lap (I'm used to a heavier keybord).

Under Mac OSX I can use some of the extra keys, mainly the audio controls and the sleep button, while the application launcher keys go unused. I must say that I like how the sleep function works in OSX, it pops open a dialog asking if you want to restart, shutdown, put the machine to sleep or cancel, which is better than how I've seen Windows XP work where it just immediately goes to sleep. I'll probably see if I can adjust the system keymap to use the extra keys, but it isn't a big deal.

The mouse is basic but works well. It is an optional mouse that seems to have good tracking - certainly as good as the basic Logitech ones we've been using for yonks. Unlike many mice on the market today, this one just has the basic two buttons and single-direction scroll wheel, which is just fine for my needs.

Finally, as this was my first wireless keyboard set I was interested to see how well the distance detection worked. The manual says that the keyboard and mouse should be kept within 1 meter from the base, so don't hide it on the other side of the room but you should still have enough flexibility to move around your desk (or spin around on your chair). As mentioned, this is my first wireless keyboardset and it is working quite well - no cables to get caught on chair legs or clutter up the desk.

So, for $0 this is shaping up to be the one of best computer purchases I've made, and for the price I recommend picking one up yourself.

AdiumX 1.0 & Yahoo problem


There's a small problem with the just-release AdiumX v1.0 and Yahoo Instant Messenger (Y!IM) accounts if you were using any of the beta releases. For whatever reason, something changed in the Y!IM configuration and the only way to get your connection to work is to remove it then add the login back in again. Go figure. Still, a minor quibble when the rest of the program works so well.


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