2008.01.23

Back when stuffit didn't suck...

23.44.07 - Mark

There's used to be a reason Mac software developers used to always archive their programs with stuffit. Back before OS X came to town with it's cool unix underpinnings, stuffit and .sit archives were the only effective game in town for bundling up Macintosh files. Back then you couldn't find a mac that didn't have some version of stuffit, and any power user usually had a few copies and a dozen aliases for it on their hard drive. It used to be a friendly reliable application that somehow, as soon as OS X came into town, turned into an absolute monster of a program.

The makers started nagging users for the software, begging them to download and pay for the latest version. They started introducing new archive formats into an already crowed (and long established) field. You can't even download it unless you give them permission to spam you with shitty software notices.

I don't remember the last time I didn't have to fight with stuff it to expand a file, let alone the last time I desired to make a stuffit archive.

Betweens zips and gzip, and tarballs in OS X's unix roots there's no need for sits anymore. Any remainging advantages sit files had could easily be passed off to an installer package or a very competent disk image file. yet, for some bizarre reason, people still release macintosh files as Sit archives, and every time I need those files, I end up fighting with stuff it to work.

Please, developers, give up on stuffit and stick to the standards. Apple's DMG, the cross platform ZIP, or the unix-y tar.gz etc. It's a real hassle when I have to install / run truly horrible software to install you software, and I'm getting to the point where the stuff it files aren't worth it

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2007.03.31

Xcast or the podcast client iTunes should be

19.39.12 - Mark

I've been trying to get back into podcast consumption, but the lack of a solid podcatcher has been a hindrance (see also Hurray for iTunes (Not) and Transistr). The closest I've come is a beta app called Xcast and now that I've finally got it working (sort of) I feel safe making some comments on it.

First, its a beta. It's a nice beta, but it has a handful of sharp edges, like for instance, a near total lack of documentation. Look at the website, the documentation link isn't and the closest thing the develop offers is a screencast (although a nice one, its video when a few lines of text and a pretty picture work perfectly). I ran across an excuse somewhere about not being a text guy, but I'm sorry, if you can piece together a nice chunk of software, you can damned well hack together enough documentation to help people get it up and running. This is important for at least one reason. There's some serious setup involved.

On the surface, Xcast looks nice and feels fairly fast intuitive, but there's a whole mess of non-obvious features you need to configure before it actually works on autopilot. It takes almost no time at all to add an RSS feed and download elements, its not even that hard to find the preferences and schedule automatic downloads, but global settings for moving files into iTunes is conspicuously absent, at least one you know to look for such a setting, and if I remember the defaults correctly, downloading enclosures is a manual process.

Of all the podcatchers I've tried, all of them either moved files into your media player of choice or were designed to play/manage files without use of an external player. Xcast is the only one I can remember using that requires you to set that up yourself. I'd shake this off as a beta issue, but the App prides itself on its iTunes integration. (Which once set up seems to do just fine, sort of - starting to find a few bugs)

I haven't really given feed import export a show yet, and with my previous iTunes podcast collection boned there's no real way of testing the cleaning/management features, but it feels solid.

A couple other of other minor gripes would be the lack of bittorrent support and the odd way it manages regular RSS information, but I think Xcast is the podcast client iTunes should be. Simple, but full featured. Full RSS reader, feed management (smart feeds good), feed import and export, and smart management tools for the podcasts themselves.

Its not the app I really want to be using, but I think it will work for now.

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2006.03.16

Dueling Platforms

09.01.30 - Mark

Someone has figured out how to duel boot a MacBookPro (I still think it's a silly name) with OS X and Windows XP. They also piecked up $14,000 for the work. link

If Apple releases a 12" Intel 'book of any variety before I fix my iBook, I'll be giving some serious thought into moving up to a new system rather than a repair.

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