Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in November, 2003

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X-Ray. Creativity. In Style. (OS X Panther)

Rainer’s not only decidedly got past that developer’s block.

Whew. XRay 1.0.8 is out.

Here’s what the finished batch panel looks like, to contrast with the first version mentioned below:

Much better, huh?

Everything was delayed nearly a full day, while I implemented some other stuff based on feedback from beta testers (thank you!). A puzzling crash led me to try to plug some memory leaks, but after messing around for some hours I decided not to tackle this right now; at least that particular crash could be fixed.

Then Xcode decided to go north on me, neglecting to copy parts of my nib files and not executing my copy phases; and this only in deployment mode, in development mode everything worked. After trying the usual things – quitting, cleaning, rebuilding etc. – I copied the @#$%^ things by hand in order not lose any more time…

Then, in the middle of transferring my updated files to my site, my provider goes off the air… after about an hour, it was back. Whew, as I said.

Now for dinner and some sleep… icon_wink.gif regular blogging may resume soon.

So here I was, practically all known bugs in XRay 1.0.7 fixed… just coasting a little before diving into the boring part of reviewing the online help files and updating the screen snapshots prior to publication… writing the part of the release notes explaining why (once again) no new plug-ins would be released with 1.0.8… writing e-mail to a user explaining (also once again) why 1.1 wouldn’t have a batch mode… piece of cake, really. Reviews were positive, but sales not really. How should I generate more user enthusiasm?

…when suddenly the proverbial light bulb flashed on and I thought, hey, if I do a simpler batch mode with a batch plug-in, keyed to work on all the contents of the folder being XRayed… hmm… I’ll work around all the arguments saying that I don’t have a proper user interface for doing arbitrary file lists.

So, off I go making a batch plug-in for XRay. First of all, of course, one must design the T-Shirt!

Hehe, just joking. First of all, a real Mac programmer spends at least one day – maybe two – designing the product icon:

…meanwhile, ye olde subconsciouse is chugging along, working out what the user interface might look like. Then, off we go into Interface Builder and try to build an actual user interface out of those musings…

Got it? The left column of checkboxes enables the items to the right. First, there’s a section with assorted items… looks rather jumbled-together and empty on the right side, hmm. Then, there’s a copy of the UI elements from the Type/Creator/Extension panel… then it would be nice to tell the user how many contained items there are in that folder… then we’ll need the recalculate/stop button from the main info panel… then it would be nice to affect files, folders, or both, and only on the first level… then we need a “Reset All” button to clear everything…

Oh my. This doesn’t look all that good, but writing some code usually will clear everything up. So I get to work, inserting outlets and actions and making sure all the little connections go to the right items. Then I see that my standard plug-in example code is outdated and I spend a day or so cleaning that up, and getting used to all the new fancy Xcode options for plug-ins. Cleaning up the .plist, compiling an empty plug-in to make sure it loads and all the options are right, and finding out why the Finder doesn’t show the new icon. OK, ready for some real action.

After a couple of days of trying to reuse some existing code and not getting anywhere – and moving stuff around in the window and making it even worse – and puzzling out the logic of the actual batch operation (which options apply to folders? Which to files? What if such-and-such?) – I concluded that it all was a big mistake. Would some user really wish to mark all the contents of a folder, to all levels, as “Purple”? 🙂 (Well, probably someone somewhere is just waiting for an utility to color his entire “/System/Library” folder and its contents purple, but should I really help this person further his/her/its wicked ways?)

After a sleepless night, I concluded that what users really need (as opposed to want) is just changing type and creator of a bunch of files inside a folder. So there. So let’s just imitate the way that the Permissions panel lets the user specify which permissions should be changed for contained items, but in this case with the type/creator fields and popups. Simple and direct.

So, that’s what I’ve been working on, instead of updating this weblog. I was going to post a screenshot of the current panel, except that – while capturing the image – I saw a way to simplify it even further! So, expect XRay 1.0.8 out in a few days, with (tadah!) limited batch mode. Isn’t it fun? Now excuse me, I need to oil my “delete” key…

Re: Sterling qualities

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Thankfully, Bruce Sterling’s weblog now has a RSS feed! And he’s linking to great stuff… I especially recommend (by Jared Tarbell & Lola Brine), which also ties in with my previous post about interactive webpages. I’m not into Flash, but if you are, there’s lots of interesting source code here.

According to Boing Boing, Bruce also points at the Perpetual Ocean gallery; I couldn’t find this reference, but it’s well worth a visit, too; especially the Digital Image Gallery.

In line with his tips for shareware authors that I mentioned recently, Brent Simmons points at Rogue Amoeba’s Good Ideas. A must read.

Giga Quotes

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The GIGA USA quotes site contains over 50,000 quotes indexed by date, author, and whatnot. And it’s searchable! And it links to a hundred other quote sites!

Following some links I chanced upon one of my favorite Steven Wright quotes:

I bought my brother some gift-wrap for Christmas. I took it to the Gift Wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.


This is very apropos of a bug I’m fixing in XRay. I’m using aliases to track open files, in case they’re moved; if the open file is a symbolic link, it’s very hard to keep the system from following the link – I keep getting the file the link points at instead of the link itself. I need to find some system call that stops unwrapping the aliases/links at the appropriate place…

Thanks for the linkage

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Der Schockwellenreiter graciously links to XRay… danke, Jörg!

Getting interactive

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While debugging buggy bugs (as my iChat status line says most of the time), I can’t resist reading my RSS feeds at least once a day. Lately several interesting interactive webpages have come to the notice of the people who are doing my web browsing for me, and the thing has reached a critical mass where I absolutely have to post this.

The Economists.

The Eyes Have It, Flower, Swarm, Swarm Plant, ah well, just look at the index of everything.

Programmable Smileys.

The Scribbler.

There were a few others, but I couldn’t find the URLs on short notice. I think all of these were found by the folks at Boing Boing and/or the peripatetic John Walkenbach.

Now, back to them bugs…

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