WeatherMin Approved for the Mac App Store!


I’m happy to announce the availability of WeatherMin on the Mac App Store! Like most Mac developers who are bringing software to the App Store, this is somewhat of an experiment for me. The Mac App Store is still in its early stages, and although my hopes are high I have no way of telling what the payoff will be or what unexpected issues might come up. For all the downsides though, I want to do my best to reach all my potential customers. It’s clear the App Store is the best way to do this.

For the time being I will continue to distribute WeatherMin through my own FastSpring online store, as well as release free updates with Sparkle. This is certainly more work on my end, but I think it’s the only fair way to treat existing customers who have already purchased a license.

Oh, and as part of the App Store experiment, I’m also lowering the price of WeatherMin. You can get it now for $4.99, either on the Mac App Store or my own online store. Enjoy!

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June / July Link Roundup


Cocoa developer Matt Gemmell tells us why our application’s website sucks. I admit to making some of these mistakes in the past, although I think I fixed most of them in my most recent set of updates.

Alexander Repty released a PDF reader for iPad, Folio Case, right around the time Apple announced PDF support in iBooks. Alexander has written a lot about his experience on his blog and Twitter, and it’s an interesting story to read.

Speaking of iBooks, if you’re looking for free content in .epub format there’s nothing better than The Pragmatic Bookshelf.

Dave Caolo’s new Apple blog, 52 Tigers, has a great post about the small changes in iOS 4 you may have missed.

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Thoughts on ExpanDrive


I started using ExpanDrive today, a SFTP application that uses MacFUSE to access a remote server in Finder. There was a good review of it a few weeks ago at Daring Fireball, and I’ve been hearing good things from several other developers.

The appeal of ExpanDrive is that it “just works;” you don’t have to worry about disconnecting or reconnecting to the server if your network connection changes (working from a MacBook Pro, mine frequently does) or any of the other problems that Finder sometimes has with remote volumes. With the exception of one Finder crash, ExpanDrive has worked very well with me. In no particular order, here are some quick thoughts, both good and bad (I’m currently using version 1.1).

  • I wish ExpanDrive had the option to display “.” hidden files in Finder, like .htaccess. There’s probably a hack to enable this systemwide, but it would annoy me to see them everywhere; I want it enabled just on my webhost. It’s not hard to use to open hidden files, but it would be better if it was an option, like it is in Transmit.
  • ExpanDrive doesn’t let Finder dump lots of metadate files (.DS_Store and ._Filename.txt) on your remote volumes, from what I can tell. That’s good! I was afraid this wouldn’t be the case, and it actually kept me from trying ExpanDrive at first.
  • Finder reports my webhost remote server as an 8TB volume with 8TB free. I could be wrong, but I assume that’s just the maximum volume size, not the actual disk space. It would be great if I could configure this per server, so Finder would report the actual disk quota for my hosting company.
  • ExpanDrive is fast! I’m not just talking about moving bits across the Internet either; copying, moving and editing files is just quicker through Finder than a separate FTP application like Transmit.
  • Bug report. Adding a “,” in the volume name causes the MacFUSE connection to fail. ExpanDrive showed it as connected until I restarted the application.
  • Minor annoyance, but I don’t like the menu bar icon. It’s too three dimensional compared to other menu bar icons, and there’s really no reason for me to use it often. A preference pane would have been better suited, with the option of showing a menu bar icon for users who disconnect and reconnect to drives more frequently than I do.

I still love Transmit, and I’m going to keep using it for some tasks, but I’m probably going to end up buying an ExpanDrive license when the demo expires. The allure of using SFTP reliably through Finder is just too much to resist.

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Mac OS X virtualization for developers


Cocoa developer Craig Hockenberry wants you to file a bug report on the OS X license restrictions that prevent desktop virtualization:

How can you develop new products for Leopard when you need to have Tiger installed for supporting your legacy applications? How easy is it to test a new feature on Mac OS X 10.4.11 when you’re running 10.5? How quickly can you reproduce a bug on 10.4.10 if you’re running 10.4.11? Can you run Xcode versions 3.0 and 3.1 at the same time from /Developer?

We all know the way to get Apple’s attention regarding our issues is to submit bugs. So now is the time to vote for virtualization. If you agree with the following, please copy and paste this bug report and submit it so that it becomes a duplicate of Bug ID# 5812840.

I agree with everything Craig is saying, and I can’t wait to see OS X virtualization available. As a developer, the benefits to testing software without switching computers or rebooting to a different operating system are enormous. The only downside is that virtualization will never allow me to emulate PPC processors along with Intel. Until I decide to cut support for PPC entirely (it will probably be a few years before I even consider this), I’m going to have to keep my old PowerBook on a side table for additional testing.

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iPhone SDK


The iPhone SDK has finally landed, bringing with it real Exchange support, WPA2 and other goodies. You can watch the announcement event here, or read highlights and commentary at Daring Fireball.

Although I don’t own an iPhone (yet), I did download the SDK and look forward to playing with it. My feelings about the price structure seem to be about the same as what most other developers are thinking. The $99 listing fee is no big deal. In my experience, even semi-popular freeware applications can earn back more than that through donations. The 30% Apple commission is high, but at the same time the iPhone is opening up an additional revenue source that will augment existing sales. It’s also a really neat, fun platform to develop for.

As a user, I am a little concerned about iPhone applications that are built off of their desktop alternatives. For example, if I buy a license for Delicious Library 2, will I have to pay an extra $20 for an iPhone version (assuming one is eventually released)? Will the iPhone version be free, but intentionally crippled so you need or want the full desktop version? It would be great if the iPhone version could be unlocked with a desktop serial number, but it seems like this won’t be possible. Maybe developers will be able to create coupons that will work in the iTunes store, but I haven’t heard anything about that.

I’m going to buy an iPhone eventually, I’m considering holding out until the next revision. It seems like it June would be a perfect time to release a second generation iPhone along with the new firmware update.

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OmniGraffle 5 released


Congratulations to Omni Group for the latest release of OmniGraffle earlier this week. I haven’t had a chance to use it much yet, but it seems like an impressive release in terms of features and improvements, as well as taking advantage of new Leopard only technologies.

Omni applications have always had great attention to detail, which is one of the reasons both developers and users love their software. For example, OmniGraffle 5 has two sets of toolbar icons; a normal one for the standard OS X appearance, and a greyscale set that’s automatically used when you choose the ‘Graphite’ appearance in System Preferences. Neat.

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A note about the MacBook Air


The new MacBook Air looks like an great machine, and I wish I had a need for one. I don’t have a desktop at home, and I doubt I would be happy with the Air’s performance as my primary workstation, so planning on sticking with my MacBook Pro for the foreseeable future.

What’s exciting to me (besides the multi-touch and other new features that should eventually make their way to the MBP) is that it seems like a great reason for Apple to push bluetooth data tethering on AT&T in a future software update or revision to the iPhone. Steven Frank mentioned this in a recent blog post, and I tend to agree. For a laptop that’s designed for portability, it makes sense to have some other option for network connectivity, and without an ethernet jack or ExpressCard slot, bluetooth tethering would fulfill that role nicely.

Bluetooth data tethering is one of the big reasons I haven’t seriously considered buying an iPhone yet. Although it’s slow and I rarely really need it, it’s invaluable when I need to get some work done and I can’t find a reliable WiFi connection. I’m sure AT&T won’t be quick to get behind it, but I still have my fingers crossed.


Mac Giving Tree


Mac Giving Tree; free OSX software from the folks behind the MacHeist promotion. No requirements, except signing up for a MacHeist forums account.

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Show WiFi signal information in the AirPort Menu Item


From TidBITS Networking:

Leopard includes more information about Wi-Fi networks in the vicinity of your computer than meets the eye. Mac OS X 10.5 updates the AirPort menu in the system menu bar after you select, which is a neat feature and provides more accurate results. It also shows a lock icon next to networks protected by some form of encryption. But you can extract more information by holding down the Option key while selecting the menu.

Neat trick, although it would be more useful if it showed details for all the networks in range, instead of just the connected network.

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Dashboard WebClip Widget & Pandora


I’ve been a fan of Pandora Internet Radio for a few years, and one of the few things I dislike about it is that it can be annoying to keep the flash-based audio player open in your web browser. It turns out though, that this is a perfect fit for Leopard’s new WebClip Dashboard Widget. Just turn off “Only play audio in Dashboard” in the Widget’s preferences, and you have the perfect Dashboard mini-application. And I thought I’d never find a use for WebClip!

Pandora Internet Radio

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