Older blog entries for amars (starting at number 308)

AIM/iChat
Ever since i started using iChat in OS X, people would complain that when i send them links that i've copied and pasted that the link is dead or doesn't work. Almost always they will simply come back to me and say the link doesn't work and are too lazy to copy and paste the link from their aim window to their browser.

So tonight, with the participation of a seemingly willing person on the other end of the conversation i attempted to diagnose the problem. I thought perhaps it was the way OS X handles urls in the clipboard, that perhaps they are treated differently and there was meta data attached to the link that isn't displayed. By running ethereal, i was able to capture the information that is sent, as it is sent, to see if iChat was adding special characters/formatting to the link (which it does when you copy/paste RTF from one app to another) or if the problem is with AIM.

Typical message as it is sent by iChat:

<html>
<body ichatballooncolor="#EBEBEB" ichattextcolor="#000000">
<font face="Helvetica" ABSZ=12 color="#000000"><a href="http://www.google.com">http://www.google.com&lt/a></font>
</body>
</html>

So, obviously there isn't anything that could be distorting the link in iChats side, unless the ichat* attributes are what fucks it up, or maybe it's the ABSZ=12, neither of which AIM sends me. Unless it's because of those extraneous nonstandard tags which don't seem like they would have any effect on the links at all, it's AIM that is at fault here. But the question i can't seem to answer is why people seem to have a problem with only me. there's never a problem with others and AIM to AIM or me with iChat to iChat or even AIM to iChat. It only happens with iChat to aim, which doesn't make any sense at all, none whatsoever, but... because i'm on a mac and they are on windows and because aim /windows doesn't interpret anchor tags properly, it's my fault because i'm the one using iChat, and that really bugs me. My standard response from here on out will be to just copy and paste the damn link, i don't know why it doesn't work.

Though, after doing this, i tend to think that AOL is doing this bass-ackwards. Sending HTML just seems like a bad idea. The least they could do is exchange CSS stylesheets at the beginning of each chat session instead of having these non-standard non-consistent html attributes. The ideal way to handle it would be (like jabber) to send XML according to a standardized AIM schema with stylesheets to specify formatting details.

Something else noteworthy, iChat seems to simply serialize the chat session when it wants to save a chat session, instead of exporting it to plain-text as a typical chat log. It does this, i suppose, so it can easily restore actual chat sessions instead of serving as a way of keeping logs of chats.

Either way, i seem to have learned something, even if i haven't really solved the riddle of why people can't use the links i send them. At least now i can blame windows guilt-free.

CBS really needs to pick better headlines. "Bullets Found In Colombia Crash Bodies", is sure to be taken the wrong way.

Trash talking
OSCommerce sucks. Do us all a favor and don't use it. Today, I fixed another bug for a client. I'm guessing UPS must have changed it's API recently as far as fetching available shipment options go and converged GNDRES and GNDCOM into simply GND. There is no documentation, nor are there any comments in the code to explain how the UPS shipping module works, so it took some clever curling and to realize that UPS wasn't providing what OSCommerce was expecting.

Hopefully. google will pick this up and someone with a similar problem will pick it up. Maybe the OSCommerce people have fixed it in newer versions, but for those of us for whom it is not an option to simply upgrade because of customizations we've made and use the UPS shipping module and are having problems, one must simply add the GND type to $this->types in the ups class constructor in includes/modules/shipping/ups.php and call it, say, "Ground" or whatever seems appropriate.

Bah. don't know how I can properly convey what I'm trying to say without insulting PHP, but I hate it. What was once something I was enjoying and enthusiastic about is now so routine and menial to the point that I can't stand it. Honestly, to the outsider, I don't have much to complain about, i'm employed (and paid), there's no shortage of work, get to work from home or anywhere there's internet access, for the most part set my own schedule so I can attend school full-time, don't have a dress code to adhere to and have a relatively great deal of creative freedom, as programming goes and managed to have enough to take two 3+ week vacations out of the country. But... as i said it's gotten routine, and routinely annoying as clients have demands but don't know what they want nor do they provide any restrictions or guidelines to follow but complain and want changes after i've started or wrestling over problems with well known and respected open source PHP projects because they were written by monkeys and don't work or talking on the phone or communicating by email with someone who obviously has absolutely no idea what they are talking about and oblivious to their ignorance on the subject.

I've since grown to hate the web as a development platform, if that makes sense.

But I have bills to pay. Dammit.

Well, i solved my only complaint with OS X and my powerbook. At first, it was unclear if i could have my main desktop displayed on my external monitor with the LCD of the powerbook acting as the secondary monitor. Thanks to the Apple forums someone pointed out that in addition to being able to drag the desktop orientation in the arrangement tab of the preference pane, you can drag the menu bar to either desktop. So I did, and now have my main desktop on my 20" monitor with my powerbook on the side running iChat and iTunes.

I'm in heaven.

I'll write a review but wait until after i've used it a full week.

I am the latest proud owner of an Apple 12" PowerBook G4. I opted for additional memory bringing it to 384 Mb and the AirPort Extreme card. Going through the process of setting it up the way i like it. Will write a detailed review sooner or later.

6 Feb 2003 (updated 6 Feb 2003 at 04:22 UTC) »
Not so open-source advocacy
I was thinking earlier today how inconvenient the dock (OS X) is to only have a select few applications available unless you have a really bick dock and cram them all in if you need room. So i figured it might be convenient to have a link to my Applications folder so i can go directly to it instead of opening finder and clicking on my applications folder in the toolbar or navigating to it. At first, i was dissapponted because i couldn't drag it onto the dock, but realized i could in the bottom portion, just above the trash can. So, in Apple tradition not only was I happy with the results, there's an added bonus. If i right-click on the folder it will bring up a menu of the folder's contents, so i can instantly access anything in my applications folder by right-clicking on it's icon in the dock.

I tried it with my hard drive, so now i also have my hard drive in my dock which is navigable with the mouse via menus... a la OS/2 style. Hopefully this should reduce the amount of times i have to open up finder and go to a file or application, which can be taxing on this particular machine.

Yet another reason why OS X kicks so much ass. I still only have one icon on my desktop!

Update
Along the same lines so not worth a new update. I just realized there is a native MPlayer for OS X. Bonus!
Proving Murphy's Law since 1982
So, after six months of solid performance and one month of nonstop uptime (a miracle in my circumstances) ElDiablo, my Linux box i use for communications purposes and as a secondary computer when i need to do two things at once, died. It locked up and stopped responding, i rebooted it and i was met with a siren-like post. I opened up the case, screwed in the video card, it booted and all was well. However, Gnome ceased to finish loading.

After having gotten used to setting up a computer to do what i want and forgetting about it, i've forgotten (or no longer care) how to fix it. I had it purring like a kitten and Gnome2 specially customized the way i like it.

So... I'm considering making the switch from Linux to FreeBSD to see what the hype is over FreeBSD 5. All I do with this particular machine is talk with co-workers on ICQ, IRC and browse the internet... and archive my email, and i'd rather not go through the steps involved in troubleshooting a problem and fixing it, i'd rather just use the damn thing.

I'll be making backups tomorrow and installing FreeBSD, hopefully it will go smoothly.

The other option is to revert back to Windows, and we all know *that* isn't going to happen, ever. My days of Windows are over.

I'm normally a fairly patient person, but it's been tough these past couple of days and i'm sure this coming week won't be any different as I get the paperwork squared away, but damnit, I *will* have a PowerBook in my possesion within a week.

I dare to be ambitous and say i'd like to take a stab at hacking up the touchpad driver to implement, possibly, a half-ass right-click functionality. I'm pretty sure that portion is open source, if not, i'm pretty sure x,y,etc information is available and it'd be possible to send some kind of interrupt that triggers the right-click action when they x/y is in a certain region. Seems to be the biggest complaint about Apple laptops (desktops even) is that they have one mouse button. I've never had a problem with my powermac because i've always used the same mouse i've always used, a logitech optical wheel mouse, which OS X (and most apps) are very supportive of, but with, things might be diferent since i won't always have an external mouse avail. If that doesn't work out, i might have to map another key to it, who knows. If i could pull this off (which would take a miracle), i'd probably BSDify it and ask for donations, as it seems like such functionality is what everyone is looking for. It boggles my mind that Apple hasn't at least made such functionality optional.

I'd like to say that with the ability to right-click without control-clicking many people will have one less reason to bitch at Apple for, but those people will just find something else to complain about and find another reason not to buy an Apple computer.

I just need to find time from my horrendously busy schedule to not only implement this but to learn how to do it first, which will be fun and interesting, hopefully.

President Bush: Can we please stop wasting so much money trying to kill foreigners, so we can afford to send people into space safely?

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