Category Archives: Apple MacBook

Mac OS X Lion first impressions

I have been using Mac OS X Lion for two days now. This is fresh enough to remember the issues I encountered when installing. Read more »

Dear Apple,

I am really fed up with your constant updates to iTunes and QuickTime. Will you ever get them right or are your programmers so clumsy you need to issue a fix every two weeks ? And do you really need me to download 75Mb just for one fix ? Do we really need to reboot each time after installing a QuickTime or iTunes  update ?
Please stop trying to behave like the folks in Redmond. It does not serve your image.


Hacking Mozilla Thunderbird

A while ago, I replaced the official Mozilla build of Thunderbird I had on my Mac with an optimized-for-Intel build I found here.

Taking the process one step further, I compiled it myself from source. This allowed me to change one thing that annoyed me in the application. Thunderbird puts subject lines between brackets when you forward a message. It is not a configurable option. This is hard-coded into the application in the file nsMsgCompose.cpp (lines 2017 and 2018) and in mimedrft.cpp (line 1350).

One other annoyance I had with Thunderbird on MacOSX is that it displayed the date in MM/DD/YY format, rather than the DD/MM/YY format we use in Europe. This happened regardless of the date settings on the Mac, and irrespective of the official build I used.  Bingo this time. Recompiling Thunderbird solved this issue. My guess is that the application takes the defaults of the platform being used for compiling, rather than the run-time defaults.

Finally, my is now 31Mb, rather than 52Mb for the official build. As a result, it starts and runs visibly faster.

MacOSX 10.5.3 update

Besides security fixes, there are some  new features in the latest MacOSX update. Among them is the possibility to synchronise the Address Book with you Gmail account.

Apple sems to adopt some of Microsoft’s lock-in strategies. Hence, this only works of you have an iPod or an iPhone.  That is the theory. In fact, all you need to make it work is to let Mac think you have such a device.  The Lifehacker blog shows you how to create a fake entry.  In short, open a terminal window on the Mac and enter this command:
defaults write Devices -dict-add red-herring '{ "Family ID" = 10001; }'

From then on, the Preferences in Address Book will allow you to connect to your Gmail account and merge address books.

I did and came up with mixed feelings over this feature. I have a Gmail account which I use primarily as a backup and emergency e-mail address in case my laptop would fail. On my e-mail server, I have procmail rules which auto-forward messages to my Gmail account. Gmail has the bad habit to add to your Gmail address book about any e-mail address that ever appeared in your inbox, apparently. So, I ended up with lots of duplicates and expired addresses. I went from a Mac address book with approximately 700 entries to a whopping 4000 … Cleaning up the mess would be a daunting task. So, be sure to take a backup of your address book before you start a synchronization.

Alas, this update does not fix Spotlight’s inability to index Thunderbird e-mail messages on Leopard, as it did with Tiger.

IPv6 for the rest of us

IPv6 deployment is in a chicken and egg situation. On the one hand, there is no willingness from ISPs and commodity DNS router manufacturers to include IPv6 support in their infrastructure or equipment because “there is no demand”. On the other hand, there is no demand because the average Joe Blow could not care less if he accesses a web site under IPv4 or IPv6. It should just work. The equipment and infrastructure should adapt transparently.

One of these days, when there will be IPv6-only web sites, Joe Blow will call his ISP to complain he cannot access them. This may happen sooner that you think. The North American Internet Registry (ARIN) has issued an advisory to alert the community that it will no more be in a position to allocate IPv4 addresses in the near future and strongly advises companies and ISPs to look at IPv6 instead.

What we users can do is to stop waiting for the industry to get its act together and work around its limitations.

Most consumer OSes these days support IPv6, either natively like MacOSX, Linux or Windows Vista or as an add-on, like Windows XP. If you have the traditional setup with a computer connected to the Internet through a DSL router, the latter is being assigned a dynamic IP address. Your computer in turn is being assigned an IP address by the router, typically out of a private address space (per RFC 1918).

What we need now is a way to tunnel trough the hostile IPv4 environment to connect to an IPv6 Internet. The specifications are defined in RFC 4380 and nicknamed Teredo. There is an implementation for Unix-like operating systems called Miredo. And for those of you who are uncomfortable editing Makefiles and compiling source code, the good news is that there are pre-packaged versions for MacOSX and Ubuntu Feisty (just type “apt-get install miredo”. You should have the universe repository active).

I tested both and they work out of the box. I am actually editing this post through an IPv6 tunnel over a straight IPv4 ADSL connection. Pretty amazing.

I did not test the MS Windows implementation. However, since Microsoft wrote the specs, I suppose it should be quite easy to set up there, too. Some tips are available at the IPv6 Task Force web site and Microsoft‘s own site.

What does that bring to you ? Well, first you will be considered a certified geek by your neighbourhood. More seriously, not much right now. What I notice is actually that my connection is slowing down. This may be due to the fact that tunnelling a protocol through another one is never efficient. Also, the peering agreements between backbone operators are not as optimal as they are in the IPv4 world. But at least, I am ready for the future.