Burn for OSX

September 24, 2006

Besides Roxio Toast (expensive) or Finder.app (limited), I haven’t heard of many good CD burning applications for OSX. Today I came across Burn, which seems like decent, free alternative. It’s not perfect, but it manages to fit most of the features of Toast into a simple, lightweight interface. More importantly, it didn’t give me any problems when I burned four or five DVD data discs tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll try converting from AVI to DVD. That’s something I could never get Toast to do reliably (at least with my DVD player), even though it was supposedly a feature.

Update: Just after I posted this, someone told me about Disco, a soon-to-be-released burning application that looks like it will have one slick UI. Having recognized some of the people behind this project, I’m sure it will be a strong contender once it’s out.

Put a del.icio.us button in Safari

September 22, 2006


I started using del.icio.us a few months ago to keep bookmarks in sync across several computers at work and home, and it’s been my default home page ever since. Tonight I decided to change the “Home” button in Safari’s toolbar to something a bit more suitable. This might be old hat for some OSX users, but here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Open a Finder window and right-click on Safari.app, choose Show Package Contents.
  2. Open the Contents -> Resources folder.
  3. Find Home.tif, HomePressed.tif and optionally HomeDisabled.tif.
  4. Make a backup copy of these, and edit the originals in an image editor. That’s it!

Remember to backup your work, since it’ll probably be overwritten the next time Safari is updated.

Friday Project

September 22, 2006

I started a new project at work this morning. It’s a client-server helpdesk application, that allows users to fill out a request form on our intranet site, which puts an entry in our database and notifies me and my boss at our desks via a system tray application. I know there’s a lot of free (and expensive) helpdesk applications out there already, but honestly I’ve never seen one that’s as transparent, easy to use and maintain, and (dare I say it) stylish as what I’m planning. I’m using ASP / C# / .NET 2.0 / MS-SQL, all of which work really well for a project like this. A lot of the code is similar to tools I’ve written in the past, so I had a good portion of it finished by the time I left today. I’m really excited about how it’s going to turn out, and I think it’s going to simply things a lot for us.

I haven’t forgotten about Cocoa; in fact, I’ll probably rewrite the notification client as a neat little Growl integrated OSX app once I’m done with the Windows side of things. All part of my eventual plan to get my boss to buy a few more Macs for us to play with at the office.

Things you should know about webdesign, Pt. 2

September 20, 2006

Continuing my first post on the subject, here are a few more useful web design resources:

PHP5 has been around for a while, but since I was never able to get it working on my old host I’m just now beginning to use it. These articles cover some of the big changes going from PHP4 to PHP5.

Despite the somewhat rabid enthusiasm in the web programming community for Ruby on Rails (and other esoteric languages), I’m still a fan of PHP, especially now that I can start using the PHP5 object oriented model. It has its quirks, but it always seems to work well for me.

Site redesign is finished!

September 20, 2006

And so after a solid week of coding and futzing around in Photoshop, I finally put the new Downtown Software House design up. I still might end up changing one or two things, but it works, and what’s important is that it looks much, much better than the old website. Good visual design is more important in OSX software than any other platform, and hopefully my website represents that a little better now.

If you’ve been here before, you might notice a new addition to my products page; Runner’s Log. I’ll be posting about it over the upcoming months, but I’m very excited about it. I’ve been using it myself for a few months now, and although it still has some rough spots, it’s starting to shape into the type of application that I myself would buy. Hopefully now that the site design is wrapped up, I’ll have some time to actually spend coding it!

Creating 24bit PNGs with alpha transparency that work on IE6

September 19, 2006

Short answer: you can’t. In my experience it’s easier to just use 8bit PNGs when you absolutely need transparency (a nav menu for instance, where the background color changes depending on the context), and fake alpha transparency by layering the image over the background in photoshop. Of course, this can have plenty of problems by itself depending on the complexity of your design, but at least it’s clean and you can be sure it will work on any platform.

If you really need alpha transparency, and don’t mind marking up your code a bit, give this article a try.

VMWare for Mac OSX

September 18, 2006

Pre-register to beta test VMWare for OSX.

My poor G4 PowerBook seems more outdated every day. I’ve been using VMWare and MS Virtual PC under Windows a lot at work lately, playing around with virtual servers and networks as well as testing the .NET software I write. Being able to do that kind of stuff on my Mac is one of the big reasons for me to upgrade to Intel right now.

Things you should know about webdesign, Pt. 1

September 18, 2006

I’ve been very busy the past week working on a complete redesign of the Downtown Software House website. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and since I recently switched to a new hosting provider (as well as noticed some ugly bugs with IE I didn’t know about before!) I decided it was finally time.

The new site is an overhaul of just about everything from the CSS to the database design. This means I’ve been doing a lot of reading, refreshing my memory and learning about what’s new in web design in the past couple of years. I figured I’d share some of the articles that were good enough to earn a place in my bookmarks. It’s by no means a complete list on how to build a website, but they’re all important subjects, and worth the read.

  • CSS Design: Taming Lists

    It makes sense to begin designing lists and navigation elements like tabs with an old-fashioned unordered list. This article helped refresh my knowledge of CSS tricks.

  • Web Safe Fonts Preview

    For someone who doesn't know or care much about fonts, this page is anything and everything you'll ever need.

  • ext/mysqli Overview

    It seems like the old mySQL PHP methods I learned way back in PHP4 are outdated and being replaced by mysqli. This article is a good primer. Don't ignore the part about prepared statements; even though mysqli can be used like the old mysql functions, prepared statements are much better from a security standpoint.


    Just about everyone is using Apache's mod-rewrite these days. This guide shows you how to create URLs that represent content, rather than the underlying technology.

  • How to Succeed With URLs

    Another good look into mod-rewrite, but don't post the PHP code from this article verbatim... I found a few problems, to say the least. It is a good starting point, though.

Continued at part two.

Marware’s Sportsuit Sensor+ now availible

September 18, 2006

Two of my big hobbies are running and technology, so it’s no surprise the Nike iPod+ sensor has been one of my favorite new devices this year. While the sensor and iPod software are great, the shoes Nike offers are both limited and expensive. When you pick a running shoe, it’s extremely important you pick one that’s right for you. This means going to a specialized running shop (no, not Footlocker) and having a gait analysis done. Any reputable running shop is going to stick you on a treadmill, videotape or watch you run for a minute or two, and recommend a shoe based on how your foot lands as you’re running.

Picking the wrong shoe can easily lead to both short-term and even long-term injuries, which is why you shouldn’t rush out and pick up a new pair of Nikes just to use them with your iPod.

Marware’s newest product is a “case” for the Nike sensor, which clips onto your existing shoe and provides a little pouch you can place it in. Alternatively, you can use velcro or duct-tape (anything, really) to attach your sensor to non-Nike shoes, but the Marware case seems like a secure, nice looking approach that isn’t too expensive. I’ve heard that the sensor is still accurate even when you’re not using Nike shoes, so I’m looking forward to giving this a try.

New Hosting Provider

September 17, 2006

I’m just about done moving Downtown Software House and my other domains to my new host, 1&1. Switching hosts is always a pain; besides worrying about setting up new mailboxes and configuring my domains, I’ve had to import mySQL backups, rewrite some PHP code (1&1 doesn’t include all the PEAR modules I was using before) and generally poke around and hope I catch anything that might end up broken.

I won’t name names, but my last provider was simply terrible. Besides charging higher than average prices, they were horribly unreliable, had trouble with Macintosh .dmg disk images, and were prone to making configuration changes that broke my websites and email without any real warning. In short, it was completely unacceptable, and I should have stopped giving them money months ago.

After doing some research, the best choice I found was 1&1. Good prices, a long list of features, and they have a great reputation for reliability, which is always a complaint among the big names in shared hosting providers. Their website seems tailored to businesses rather than techies, but I’ve actually been very pleased with the in-depth management tools and configuration options they offer. For instance, managing multiple domains is a breeze to do, especially compared to my old provider where it took a trouble ticket and days to get anything done.

This is starting to sound like a paid commercial, but I’ve been very happy with their service so far, and felt a need to comment. Along with the move I’ve decided it’s finally time to some site re-design, so you’ll be seeing a few blog entries about that over the next few days.

Edit modes in SubEthaEdit

September 17, 2006

Editing the default modes in SubEthaEdit is very easy, if you ever find one lacking. Hold down the alt-option key, click the Modes menu item, and select Show In Finder. SubEthaEdit modes are actually bundles, and the enclosed files can be edited to change the mode’s behavior. In my case, it was opening up ModeSettings.xml for the PHP mode, and setting it as the default mode for .php5 files.

Go listen to CocoaRadio!

September 15, 2006

I’ve been catching up on quite a few old CocoaRadio podcasts the last week at work, and figured they deserved a plug. It’s interesting to hear from other independent developers, especially about how they got started in the OSX world.