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Posts from — February 2010

Corrupting your Preferences

There is nothing more insidious than having your preferences corrupted. Of course I’m talking about the file that stores your configuration information from an application running in Mac OS X becoming unreadable to the computer, causing unpredictable results.

Every application stores information about itself in something known as a property list file, or plist file for short. Any well-behaved application will create it for you if it is missing. This happens, for example, the first time you run the program. If this configuration file gets corrupted—for example, if there was a crash while it was being updated—then the program may not be able to read it the next time it starts up. Rather, it may be able to read it, but only partially, yielding strange, incomplete, or undefined options controlling the behavior of your application.

This happened to me recently when iChat refused to start up with the video camera enabled. It would tell me that the computer did not support video conferencing. However, it was able to turn the indicator light for the camera on, and all other programs using the camera worked fine. A bit of Google searching revealed that iChat is particularly susceptible to having its plist file corrupted in a way that has this effect.

Even if you don’t have a reason to suspect the preferences file, it is not a bad troubleshooting technique, when you are up against the wall and everything else has failed. So it’s a good technique to remember.

Most plists will live somewhere in your Home folder’s Library. In my case, I found the .plist for iChat in Home/Library/Preferences. It’s name was com.apple.ichat.plist. Quitting iChat, deleting the file, and restarting iChat solved the problem.

February 25, 2010   Comments Off

Secure, Contain, Protect

This is fun: The SCP Foundation. A Wikipedia-style collaborative encyclopedia of made up facts about a fictional research facility dedicated to preserving—and preserving us from—strange, weird, occult, legendary, incomprehensible, reprehensible, harmless, supernatural and/or mysterious artifacts. Each entry describes a made-up object in the style of institutional paranoia that lends a touch of authority and bureaucratic madness.

It’s a bit of a mash-up, X-Files and the Twilight Zone rolled for the Web 2.0. It seems to be open to the public. I may have to add a bit of lore.

(Original article, via Evil Avatar – News Items.)

February 23, 2010   Comments Off

Lima Charlie

For my tiny audience, can you actually read this? Are comments working?

February 23, 2010   1 Comment

Wallpaper. Furniture. Two great tastes that… nevermind

I’m going through a backlog of posts from Cool Hunting. Here is a good one. This company refurbishes old furniture with wallpaper. First, they make wallpaper this awesome? Who knew? And secondly, I really like the style. I could see going crazy with this. My inner craftsman wants to know, how hard is this to do at home? The curmudgeon doubts that the surfaces hold up to anything more demanding than a glance.

Bryonie Porter Black

The handcrafted pieces aren’t just simple cut and paste jobs, but rather subtle and elegant pieces that dynamically engage simple furniture and enthusiastic prints. A black bureau with embossed black flowers elegantly boasts the clean lines of the piece, while a children’s bookcase displays a map of the world.

Bryonie Porter Map BookshelfBryonie Porter Yellow

(Original article via Cool Hunting.)

February 22, 2010   Comments Off

Matthew Albanese on the Behance Network

It’s amazing what you can do with a a couple pounds of paprika and some ash from the fire place. And a lot of time. Oh, and a camera. It’s hard not to admire the skill and patience to create these incredibly detailed terrain models. Take a look at both the landscape shots and the shots from the studio.

(Via Cool Hunting.)

February 20, 2010   1 Comment

Not with a bang…

I really could not excerpt a passage that captures its essence, and it’s not like I would have the time to contribute anything of value to it even if I had the insight to do so. So I’ll just recommend, read the whole thing.

Okay, here is just one quote, a sure-thing prediction on our forthcoming entertainment:

As the Post story shows, the mainstream media is now coming to terms with the death [of the Global Warming movement].  Environmentalists are still trying to avoid pulling the plug, but the corpse is already cool to the touch and soon it will begin to smell.  As the global greens move from the denial stage of the grief process, brace yourself for some eloquent, petulant and arrogant rage.  Tears will be shed and hands will be wrung.  The world is stupid, uncaring, unworthy to be saved.  Horrible Republicans, evil Chinese, demented know-nothing climate skeptics have ruined the world and condemned our grandchildren to lives of sorrow and pain.  Messengers will be shot; skeptics will be blamed for asking questions and the media (and the internet) will be blamed for reporting the answers.

Read the whole thing. Really. (Via Walter Russell Mead’s Blog.)

February 20, 2010   Comments Off

Creating custom subclasses for MyDocument

I learned two things while playing around with Cocoa.

Firstly, in order to change the default MyDocument subclass of NSDocument to something else, say FooDocument, it is not enough to change the class references. Of course the whole application is tied into Interface Builder’s .xib files by magic, so you have to tell MyDocument.xib’s File’s Owner that its new class type is FooDocument. That wasn’t too hard to figure out. However if you do that you’ll get a cryptic error:

The DocumentType type doesn't map to any NSDocumentClass

This is because the class name of the document is part of the application’s configuration file. In other words you have to update your InfoPlist.

The second thing I figured out is that (NSString *)windowNibName isn’t just for looks. I foolishly changed the return value thinking it would programmatically set the name of the document window. No. The application framework sends this message to the NSDocument instance you have configured for your application (see above) to figure out the name of the .xib (or .nib) file it needs to wake up to display your document. Which is nifty, but one of those mysterious interactions that makes Cocoa hard to learn but easy to use.

Is there a flow chart to model the interaction of the run time and .nibs?

February 17, 2010   Comments Off