Failed VirtualBox OS X attempt


I had wanted to play around with the latest Mac operating system and this blog post regarding running OS X 10.7.3 (Lion) looked promising.  Furthermore, an updated post provided details for upgrading to 10.7.4.

After downloading the torrent file (a self-extracting archive) and extracting it (7z e MacOSXLion10.7.3.exe) I followed the YouTube video for applying the VirtualBox settings and gave it a whirl.  After a few minutes of the boot load process, I ended up with what a lot of other users reported: a black screen.

Ultimately, I'm convinced it's because I'm running an AMD processor, which Mac doesn't officially support at all and the forums strongly warn you against.

I guess I'll have to wait for my next computer upgrade to attempt another virtual "hackintosh".

As usual, Mac throws up more barriers for developers


For any developer attempting to provide a uniform web experience for their users, testing on multiple browsers is essential.  Too often, I browse to a site that was clearly not tested for Firefox (although it works great in IE, or vice versa).  Most web developers have multiple browsers installed on their machines for this very purpose.  Historically, the most difficult browser to test on was Internet Explorer 7+, since it was only available on Windows operating systems.  Well, it appears Macintosh is now taking its cues from Redmond by dropping Safari 6 support for Windows.

From Wikipedia: "As of Version 6 Safari no longer supports Windows operating systems."


As a Linux-based web developer, not only do I need a Windows virtual machine for IE testing, I now need to buy a Mac (ughh) or jump through hoops to virtualize it (ughh redux).

Comparing MV* frameworks


For all you developers out there that haven't already decided on your favorite model view controller (MVC) framework, here's a great project that objectively allows you to compare many of them side-by-side: TodoMVC.

Mobile development truth ... pass it on


A great preface from Jonathan Stark:

"Like millions of people, I fell in love with my iPhone immediately. Initially, web apps were the only way to get a custom app on the device, which was fine by me because I’m a web developer. Months later when the App Store was announced, I was jacked. I ran out and bought every Objective-C book on the market. Some of my web apps were already somewhat popular, and I figured I’d just rewrite them as native apps, put them in the App Store, and ride off into the sunset on a big, galloping pile of money.

"Disillusionment followed. I found it difficult to learn Objective-C, and I was turned off by the fact that the language was of little use outside of Mac programming. Xcode and Interface Builder were pretty slick, but they weren’t my normal authoring environment and I found them hard to get accustomed to. I was infuriated by the hoops I had to jump through just to set up my app and iPhone for testing. The process of getting the app into the App Store was even more byzantine. After a week or two of struggling with these variables, I found myself wondering why I was going to all the trouble. After all, my web apps were already available worldwide—why did I care about being in the App Store?

"On top of all this, Apple can—and does—reject apps. This is certainly their prerogative, and maybe they have good reasons. However, from the outside, it seems capricious and arbitrary. Put yourself in these shoes (based on a true story, BTW): you spend about 100 hours learning Objective-C. You spend another 100 hours or so writing a native iPhone app. Eventually, your app is ready for prime time and you successfully navigate the gauntlet that is the App Store submission process. What happens next?

"You wait. And wait. And wait some more. We are talking weeks, and sometimes months. Finally you hear back! And...your app is rejected. Now what? You have nothing to show for your effort. The bubble.

"But wait, it can get worse. Let’s say you do get your app approved. Hundreds or maybe thousands of people download your app. You haven’t received any money yet, but you are on cloud nine. Then, the bug reports start coming in. You locate and fix the bug in minutes, resubmit your app to iTunes, and wait for Apple to approve the revision. And wait. And wait some more. Angry customers are giving you horrible reviews in the App Store. Your sales are tanking. And still you wait. You consider offering a refund to the angry customers, but there’s no way to do that through the App Store. So you are basically forced to sit there watching your ratings crash even though the bug was fixed days or weeks ago.
Sure, this story is based on the experience of one developer. Maybe it’s an edge case and the actual data doesn’t bear out my thesis. But the problem remains: we developers have no access to Apple’s data, or the real details of the App Store approval process. Until that changes, building a native app with Objective-C is a risky proposition.

"Fortunately, there is an alternative. You can build a web app using open source, standards-based web technologies, release it as a web app, and debug and test it under load with real users. Once you are ready to rock, you can use PhoneGap to convert your web app to a native iPhone app and submit it to the App Store. If it’s ultimately rejected, you aren’t dead in your tracks because you can still offer the web app. If it’s approved, great! You can then start adding features that enhance your web app by taking advantage of the unique hardware features available on the device. Sounds like the best of both worlds, right?"

Source: O'Reilly

Weird line wrapping in bash shell


The other day I was working on a new remote server and I noticed the text of long commands was wrapping to the beginning of the same line -- very annoying.  It took awhile to find the obscure solution so I thought I'd pass it along.

Genealogy tips and issues


I'm a big fan of new Family Search but there are three major features that are missing by design:

  1. Creating nice family history charts
  2. Finding available names to take to the temple
  3. Exporting family history data
Each of these represent a widespread need and I'm really surprised new Family Search doesn't offer them but apparently the site is geared towards a specific goal and leaves the rest of the features for affiliate tools (that said, I still can't figure out why #2 isn't included by default).

To resolve these issues, I recommend the following:

  1. Tree Seek is a great free service for creating nice looking family history charts
  2. Ancestors Waiting is another wonderful free service that quickly identifies temple-ready names in your lineage
  3. ?? - all I want is a simple web-based or Linux-based application to download my new Family Search data but alas, I can't find a free service that provides that simple task.  Any suggestions?  Also, I wouldn't mind paying a nominal annual fee for securely sharing genealogy work among the members of my family but the GUI needs to be clean and simple.  (AncestrySync looks promising, but doesn't support Linux)