Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Faster Camino

One of the frustrating things about being a Camino user was how its development always lagged behind Firefox's. This is because Camino has a small development team, and their final releases always were a version or two behind Gecko's latest rendering engine (as of now, Firefox 3.6.4 is built on Gecko 1.9.2 while Camino 2.0.3 runs on Gecko 1.9.0). The consequence is that the current Camino doesn't take advantage of the latest speed enhancements the current Firefox has, particularly with javascript.

Well, there's a solution to this. It turns out the Camino team regularly releases nightly builds with the latest Gecko engines, and for some reason their nightlies have always been more stable for me than their finals. Go figure.

Anyway, you can find the latest builds here. Just make sure to backup your ~/Library/Application Support/Camino folder in case anything goes haywire.

Now you can surf websites without Camino choking on massive javascript-rendered comment sections.* Vroom vroom!

*I'm looking at you, Gawker Media.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Songbird PPC

You use iTunes, but you hate it. It's OK, you can admit it. You're in a circle of trust here. Let it out.

Of the many reasons to hate iTunes, what with it's lack of FLAC and OGG support and its appearance that inspires "I'm getting tired of you" thoughts generally reserved for longtime spouses, it turns out there is an alternative. It's called Songbird, and before you say, "But wait, didn't they drop PPC support sometime in the Mesozoic?" Well, yes, they did, but thanks to Thomas Legg, we now have updated PPC builds of Songbird available at his blog. (Update: direct link to Aug. 2010 version here.)

So given that I hate iTunes, I took it out for a spin. I wasn't expecting much because I knew it was built on the same engine as Firefox and wasn't a native Cocoa app. I anticipated a sluggish GUI on my Sawtooth, and while usable, it's still slow. And it's, while not buggy, I will say, quirky. If I click on things too quickly, it definitely gets surly. On the plus side, it supports FLAC and OGG and has an equalizer to boot, something that FLAC supporting players Cog and Play don't.

So will I finally dump iTunes? Are the divorce papers in the mail? Not quite. Maybe if I get a MDD or a G5 Songbird will be a better option, but right now it's back to the old standby. My music is in mp3's and I don't have golden ears, so truthfully, FLAC playback isn't a priority.

Another option for FLAC and OGG support with an equalizer is Vox. Version 0.2.7 is Leopard only, but 0.2.6 for Tiger is still available here.

Update: The developer for Vox has released a 0.27 version for Tiger, though they say this will be the last that supports it.

Update 2: Songbird has dropped support for Linux? What the what?!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Spotlight or Not to Spotlight

Back when Spotlight was first introduced, it was a somewhat buggy incarnation that many people found to be too much of a hassle and performance drain. Others chafed at Apple's Nazi-like tendencies in its insistence on indexing all of your data--files, emails, everything. So people disabled it.

In the years since, though, Apple has worked out the kinks and it's become a truly background operation. Still, on my 500 MHz G4, I like to eek out as much performance as I can, so when it comes to choosing between disabling all search functions and saving maybe %1 of my RAM and a sliver of processor speed, the answer is a no-brainer.

But how can you live without search? How will you know what's on your computer, you ask?

See, we used to have these things called folders. For those of you too young to remember, folders are an organizational tool. I know this sounds archaic, so please, bear with me. We'd create something called a folder and give it a distinctive name so that we'd know what went in it. Then we'd put files into the folder corresponding with the attributes of the file. For example, put pictures into the "Pictures" folder and manuscripts into the "The Universe is Laughing At You" folder. We even had subfolders inside of folders, and so on and so forth. For further reading, go here.

So now that I've bestowed the light upon you, disabling Spotlight in OS X Tiger is easy. Just edit your hostconfig file by typing in Terminal:

sudo nano /etc/hostconfig

and changing:




If the line doesn't exist, you can just add it. Then save file and exit.

Then you want to type in Terminal as separate commands:

mdutil -i off /
mdutil -E /

You have now disabled indexing and deleted the current Spotlight index. And with the edit to the hostconfig file, you will ensure that it all doesn't pop up again after you restart. You kill it and it stays dead.

Now comb your hair back, upturn your collar and put on your shades. You're ready to burn rubber.

Leopard users go here and scroll down for the great debate.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How do I turn on this thing?

That's right. It's 2010. I'm rockin' the Blogger.

I'm hip. I'm cool.