A couple of weeks ago the Mac App Store featured a calendar app I had not seen before: BusyCal. It’s the gorgeous, customizable and very usable desktop calendar that iCal should have always been. Highly recommended.
With the deployment of the MacMini3,1 as an important box, I wanted to have timely backups and easy recovery, and that is one thing Snow Leopard does rather well with TimeMachine. Attach a disk, configure as a TimeMachine destination, and done, right? Not exactly: I noticed that TimeMachine was only backing up the system if there was a user logged in, something that’s rather rare on this box (in fact, there is generally no display or keyboard attached to it).
It turns out that this is normal behavior, as the system unmounts all external volumes when a user logs out, including TimeMachine volumes (this does not apply to network volumes, just volumes physically attached to the system). There are some edge cases that affect somewhat this behavior (such us when FileVault is in use), but it can be completely disabled:
defaults write /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount \ AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin -bool true
I went ahead and rebooted the system. TimeMachine now works even when users are not logged in.
A few months ago the aging Early 2009 Mac Mini in the living room was replaced with a 2010 model. The old one was having a hard time keeping up with HD content (mainly in terms of performance but also flat out refusing to display iTunes HD content after the upgrade to Snow Leopard) and the 1080p display over the DVI to HDMI adapter over-scanning issues were rather tiresome. The 2010 model did away with all that: faster CPU, more memory and native HDMI took care of those issues, which left a perfectly functional Macmini3,1 searching for a mission in life, a mission I had found even before I pulled the trigger on the new model.
Thus, the mission is defined: the Mac Mini needs to take over the services that run continuously so the other system can be powered off at will.
The migration is nearly complete: mail is flowing and the software repository is up to date. The wiki bits are still a work in progress, but those are not as critical, primarily because Evernote has largely replaced (and enhanced) the wiki use. None of this would have been possible without the MacPorts Project community, at least not as fast and seamlessly as it has been. So there is happiness in the living room and there is happiness in the office.
Safari 5 Reader it’s the shitznutz! I love it.
I don’t normally curse (ok, ok, when writing) but fuck!
Update: I ended up nuking and paving the laptop after grabbing data via target mode. The effort late last year to finally organize my apps, data, and such is paying off. The FileVault image works, and I was able to mount it elsewhere (so I expect to drop it back in the laptop after I finish reinstalling). Eating my own sysadmin dog food: anytime!
Update: Really, a little thinking about the chain of events that may have caused this. Just before the Finder bent itself into oblivion, I just attached my video camera and (gasp!) poked around its file system from the CLI. I had attached the camera before without problems (but this was the first time I sniffed around). I’m not sure this has anything to do, other than folks seem to think this issue is related to external disks.
Although I am not a full-time developer, I do deal with a fair amount of information that benefits from the joys of versioning (including software I write). A lot of that work today happens in an IDE (Xcode), but a lot of it happens in other contexts, so having a pretty (and above all, useful) tool to navigate a repository is quite useful. I have been using Versions for the Mac since it was beta, and it has proven to be a worthy helper. Recently, I ran into Cornerstone, and I decided to try it out of curiosity. Both are solid apps, and either one will service your SVN needs nicely. Hopefully Git will get one in the near future.
Exchange support in Snow Leopard has so far worked really well, including iPhone syncing with MobileMe. Good-bye Outlook running under VMware. Really, good-bye to about the only reason I ran some flavor of Windows anymore.
When I nuked and paved the laptop, I cleaned up the virtual machine stable I had been hauling around for some time.
About two years ago I switched from Parallels (which had been working relatively well for me and was, for a while, the only option for the Mac) and went back to VMware (so that I could run VMs elsewhere if I needed to). Parallels 5 came out recently, and they had sent out an offer for a cheap update, so I decided to give them a try. I used their Virtual Machine Transporter to convert a Win7 beta VMware virtual machine, but Parallels ended up choking on it (it went into this loop where it wants to log the user in and out for the changes to the Shared Profile to take effect). I’m on the road, so I gave up quickly: I dislike getting beachballed into oblivion and having my laptop rendered into a hot molten pile of silicon (solid 100% CPU utilization). I uninstalled Parallels, wiped the virtual machine, installed VMware back and started the old VMware-based machine. For whatever reason, now VMware chokes on it too: the endless beachballing, CPU slaughtering… the works.
Today I installed CNET’s TechTracker and while I do love the concept, it’s likely to get uninstalled. Primarily, it’s not actually tracking the bulk of the software I would like to track because it seems to only pay attention to /Applications. In the fine tradition of sysadmin file system organization (or simply my own personal mental organization) I try to keep most of the apps away from the system’s /Applications directory, so I have a /Local hierarchy where I keep, well, local stuff (so there is such a thing as /Local/Applications where most of the apps I use live; there are exceptions for those that insist on living in /Applications, such as CS4 or Fusion). Looking into the preferences pane, there doesn’t seem to be an option to add other locations.
I realize most people install applications in the system location, which is fine. It simply means TechTracker isn’t of much use to me at this point in time.