Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programmers

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Most favouritest and least favourite Macs

The current meme seems to be, given the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Mac (and I’m not going to let it slip by that it’s the 20th anniversary of the NEXTSTEP 1.0 launch this year, either) to write an opinion on the best and worst Macs we’ve ever used. So here’s mine.

Obviously my Mac use comes as a result of Mac OS X, so neither of my choices are particularly old machines. My favourite is a definite thing, and it’s the first Mac I ever bought myself – a PowerMac G4 Sawtooth. I didn’t own it from new; I bought it from a contractor who was writing a WebObjects app for us when I worked at the University. It was a “G4 Server” according to the sticker, which really just meant that it came with a SCSI adaptor fitted standard, and the pi├Ęce de resistance: Mac OS X Server 1.2 installed :-). The 1.x series of MOSES (Mac OS Enterprise Server) was a release of Rhapsody, a straight port of OPENSTEP to the PowerPC with a couple of changes. Most noticable were the configuration of startup items, the platinum UI and some changes to the Workspace to make it a little more similar to the Mac OS Finder. The 450MHz G4 I had was blazingly fast in this OS, and none too shabby when it came to more modern OS X too. When I finally sold it on it was running 10.4.

My least favourite is less clear-cut, I have a choice of two. But I think I’m going to give it to the Beige G3 Power Mac I borrowed long-term, I think from the University, when I was a student. This was really a slightly updated Power Mac 8600 with a faster CPU in, but the CPU’s capabilities were significantly limited by the architecture (50MHz bus, 5MBPS SCSI) which really belonged to the older 603-alike processors. I seem to remember it having some weird amount of memory, like 208MB, because I’d scrounged different chips from different places, but even with that much RAM it couldn’t do more than crawl in OS X 10.0-10.2. As with the G4 I installed Server 1.2, but many of the Java components really were staggeringly slow on this system.

posted by Graham Lee at 14:08  

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Quote of the year (so far)

From David Thornley via StackOverflow:

“Best practices” is the most impressive way to spell “mediocrity” I’ve ever seen.

I couldn’t agree more. Oh, wait, I could. thud There it goes.

posted by Graham Lee at 01:15  

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tautology of the year (so far)

From iDefense, via DarkReading:

A recent wave of fatwas issued by radical Islamic religious leaders in that region authorizing these groups to use cyberattacks to defend Islam has opened the door for these groups to wage cyberattacks, according to iDefense.

In other news, water has been found to be wet. (seriously considering a “my beloved language, you’ve killed it!” tag)

posted by Graham Lee at 00:16  

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Quick antispam observation

One thing I’ve been doing recently is removing my membership of a load of websites that I don’t seem to have used in a long time. One side effect of not using a website in a long time is that I forget the password I created for the account, so I get to see how the website handles failed login attempts. Often, quite a few times :-(.

Now, some of these sites – and I’ve been notifying the owners as I go – give you a different failure message if you get your password wrong or your e-mail address. This is, to quote the twitterverse, made of fail. It means these websites can be used to automatically generate lists of the members’ e-mail addresses; useful to spammers, phishers (remember that the list is based on being a member of a particular site, so it’s easy to target the phish at that site) and even for later trying to compromise accounts on that site. I’d really avoid being a member of any site whose login page worked like that, and try to get them to change their error messages.

posted by Graham Lee at 12:12  

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What’s new in 2009

Of course, it’s a bit early for a retrospective of 2008, besides which I’ve already written 73 entries this year, my most prolific year to date on iamleeg. And that doesn’t count numerous tweets, stack overflow contributions and of course the occasional piece of source code here or there for some security company. As the noise of fireworks and exploding media players sounds across the world, it’s time to pre-emptively ditch 2008 and see what we can expect from 2009. Specifically, what you can expect from me.

It looks to me like the most popular pieces on this blog are the opinions and how-tos regarding Cocoa development, particularly my thoughts on properties and Cocoa memory management round-up. Don’t worry, there’s definitely more of this coming. As well as preparing for this Mac Developer Network conference talk I’ve been discussing recently, I’ve got another exciting – and unfortunately secret – project on the go now which should see plenty of collateral blog posting in the first half of the next year, all about Cocoa development. There’ll also be a bit more of an iPhone mix-in; obviously for much of last year the SDK either didn’t exist or was under non-disclosure, but now I’ve got more reasons to be using Cocoa Touch it will also be mentioned on here. I shall also be delving a bit deeper into Darwin and xnu than I have in previous times.

One example of Cocoa-related information is meetup announcements; I’m still involved in the local CocoaHeads chapter and I’ll endeavour to post an advance warning for each meeting here. I know many of my readers are in the States but a few of you are local so please do come along! In fact, if you’re not local (or “bissen’t from rond theez partz”, as we say here) then consider going to your nearest CocoaHeads or starting a new one. It’s a great way to find out who’s working on Mac or iPhone development in your area, share tips and stories and build up that professional contacts network.

Previously I’ve been concerned that readers here at iamleeg don’t seem interesting in commenting on my posts, but these days I’m no longer worried. I can tell how many people are reading, and of those how many are regulars, and I have to say that the blog is doing pretty damn well. Of course, if you do feel inclined to join in the discussion (particularly if I’ve got something wrong, or missed an important point from a post) then you should feel perfectly at liberty to leave a comment.

Finally, have a happy new year!

posted by Graham Lee at 03:47  

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