Posts tagged with macos - page 6

MacBook Pro the ultimate developer machine?

I’ve been using my MacBook Pro now for about a month and think it’s the ultimate developer machine. You really are spoiled for choice and everything you might want is at your fingertips.

Mac OS X + Cocoa

Every Mac ships with the Xcode developer tool set. This gives you the native preferred Mac development platform called Cocoa which uses Objective-C at it’s core. The actual tools are based around the GCC 4 compiler and GDB debugger with a rather nice Xcode IDE and Interface Builder GUI designer from it’s NextStep origins.

Out of the box these developer tools include compiling for both Intel and cross-compiling for PowerPC and support C, C++, Objective-C and Java.

Windows + Visual Studio / .NET

Windows is at your fingertips either via Apple’s Boot Camp dual-boot solution or the virtualization through Parallels Workstation 2.1 for OS X or VMware’s forthcoming MacIntel solution. Both virtualization products are helped by Intel’s Core chips having hardware virtualization features.

This gives you the ability to install whatever Windows developer tools you want such as the heavyweight Visual Studio 2005 or freebie Visual Studio 2005 Express C# Edition.

Linux + GCC

While I’m not a fan of Linux these individuals have a live boot Linux CD for the MacBook or you can run Linux under Windows or OS X using your favorite virtual machine.

Mono’s .NET

The Mono project support many platforms but their recommended IDE, MonoDevelop, is still quite far off being able to run on Windows. Either way you can test your app on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

Mac OS X + *nix command-line

It’s no secret that OS X is built on various BSD technologies and Apple include a bunch of the developer tools. For those tools that are missing grab Fink which will let you add everything important that’s missing as well as providing newer updated versions of the tools Apple include.

If what you’re looking for isn’t covered by Fink as default, try switching to the unstable packages. If that fails then try downloading the tarball then ./configure and make.

Mac OS X + X11

Apple provide an X11 implementation as an optional installation with appropriate library headers. Another base covered.

Web development with *AMP

OS X ships with Apache installed as default and you can add the MySQL and PHP elements if you so desire. Then you can choose between LAMP or MacAMP ;-)

Web testing

For testing web applications the Mac has you spoiled for choice.

On OS X you can test in Safari to exert your app against the KHTML+WebKit engine, Firefox or Camino to test compatibility with the Gecko engine, IE for Mac or Opera’s Macintosh offering to name but a few.

Switch to Windows and you’ll have your IE6/IE7 engines at your fingertips as well as checking with the Windows versions of Opera and Firefox.

For running stress or penetration testing Mac OS X means you can get your hands on Nessus, NMap, Snort, Hydra and other Linux based tools.


Hardware hacking the MacBook movement sensor

Developers keep finding new and unexpected uses for hardware and software – seemingly never more so than on the Mac and OS X.

Whether they’re using the iSight camera to scan bar codes into your Delicious Library or turning the Apple Remote into a alarm key-fob in TheftSensor there’s always some novel hack around the corner for the latest bit of kit.

Current attention is focused on the motion sensor added to MacBook and MacBook Pro’s that is used to park the hard-drive should sudden movement be detected.

In true Apple fashion rather than add a simple yes/no movement sensor the device can detect tilts and both the X and Y axis as well as the current level of force.

With a little imagination those enterprising third-party developers have come up with…

Sudden Motion Sensor

Amit Singh is a man with a mission – which is just as well because he doesn’t have a MacBook or a MacBook Pro. So quite how he’s written a bunch of fun apps and a useful command line motion sensor tool is another matter.

Amit includes some technical coverage of the sensor and how it works over the I2C bus Apple also use for temperature sensing, fan control etc.

He also has a useful command-line tool and some fun hacks such as showing a MacBook Pro in 3D oriented as yours currently is and a window that self-adjusts itself to always be horizontal. Alas, at least on my MacBook Pro, the X axis seems to be inverted and the invert X axis didn’t work so the effect fails to impress.

More interesting is his page on using the motion sensor as an input device. While not as advanced as the Nintendo Wand – it doesn’t support detection of position – it still holds some promise as he illustrates.


With the sensor sporting a force level it was only a matter of time before somebody used that sensor magic to come up with something like MacSaber.

The sole purpose of this app is to make your $2,000 laptop hum like a Star Wars lightsaber as you swing it dangerously around the room with a satisfying tzzzzum and sheuw.

Just don’t rely on the midichorians to stop your MacBook slipping through your fingers…

SmackBook Pro

You might be thinking this sensor is nothing but a curiosity but SmackBook Pro illustrates a rather novel use to desktop switching.

Desktop switching is one of those problem areas for short cuts. You might be using any one of tens of apps and finding a good shortcut that’s not taken by any of those applications could really be a problem.

SmackBook Pro’s solution is to tap the side of your machine to switch desktops and the way the new desktop flies in from the side is a great visual indicator of what has just happened as the video illustrates.

I’m not sure constantly tapping the side of an LCD is good for it’s health.

Many more hacks to be found at Raul’s blog.


Mac software picks – Parallels, Gmail+Growl, Uno & TheftSensor

Another round-up of the best Mac OS X software I can find.

Parallels Workstation

Piping Microsoft and VMWare to the post relative unknowns Parallels are on beta 6 of their Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X/Intel.

As well as being able to guest OS/2, DOS, BSD, Solid, Linux and all flavors of Windows their product also features support for Intel’s VT virtualization technology built into the Intel Core chips giving it an edge in performance.

Parallels also offer Windows and Linux versions of their software as well as a virtual disk compressor that works with VMware and VirtualPC as well as their own Workstations products.

They are currently offering the OS X version for $10 off so you can grab a copy for $39.99.


Growl allows other applications to pop-up messages in a very customizable way and is used by the likes of Adium messenger and Colloquy IRC.

This universal app however uses Growl to offer you a sneak preview of your latest Gmail’s as they hit your inbox. Yummy.


I’ve blogged in the past at just how annoying and inconsistent the Mac UI has become with Aqua, BrushedMetal, Platinum, ProTools, Dashboard and GarageBand UI’s all being totally different. There are even variations between those…

Uno lets you choose between Platinum or it’s darker iTunes variant for Aqua and/or BrushedMetal apps and be done with it. It’s free, fast and easy.


One of the cool things about OS X is the way Apple build cool features into the OS for application developers to use. Some examples include dictionary/spell-checking, voice recognition, iSight and AppleRemote access, system-level address-books and calendaring…

The result is you find very innovative applications using these features in new and interesting ways. One such example is DeliciousLibrary, another is TheftSensor…

TheftSensor allows you to use your AppleRemote to “lock” you machine just like you would a car with a remote locking fob. Should somebody attempt to move your laptop then an alarm will continually sound until you deactivate it with the remote. This is made possible because of the movement sensor inside Mac laptops put there to protect hard disks in the event of being dropped :)

Remember to pair your remote with your Mac so that other people can’t unlock your laptop with theirs.

TheftSensor is free but the the company behind has another more advanced non-free application called Undercover. Install this and should your Mac be stolen notify them and the next time your Mac hits in the Internet it’ll realize it’s stolen and start sending iSight cam pics of the perpetrator using your PC as well as IP tracking information.

If that doesn’t do the trick it starts to simulate hardware failures and then should it find itself on an Apple certified service center IP allocation it’ll let the service tech know it’s been stolen.


What next for Mac OS X?

Well obviously the hot item for the next major release of Mac OS X will be Intel compatibility but I’m hoping they’ll get a chance to squeeze some new features in too. Here what I’d like to see next:


Apple’s new iMac-only media centre interface seems to gave garnered quite a bit of a attention. So much so that enterprising individuals have hacked it onto their Mac. Apple should make it available to non-iMac users, possibly as part of 10.5, the next iLife or maybe even bundled with the optional remote control.

User interface unification

Every new app Apple release seems to have a new user interface now. While the look is merely cosmetic the behavior is often affected leading people to expect one result and get another.

Here’s hoping the iTunes 6 UI trickles across through the whole system, perhaps even with a switch in control panel that lets people choose between that and Aqua. In the mean time check out Uno which sorts out as much as it can visually, behavior needs to be done by Apple.

If you feel like stealing what little Longhorn still had, check out the Ruler Aero theme instead.


Back when OS X was still called OpenStep it featured a rather nice install system called Package Manager. OS X still has the installer part of this and indeed records the receipts for use by an uninstaller… That has never existed. Come on Apple, sometimes we need to uninstall apps and we’d rather not trudge around the /Library/ to clean up after them.

Microsoft Windows in a window

Apple have already claimed they will be encouraging dual-booting with Windows on their new Intel boxes even if not actively supporting it.

A better approach would be something similar to their Blue Box virtual machine running Mac OS 9 apps under OS X. As 10.4 will use their new Rosetta technology to run PowerPC apps on Intel this should be simple by comparison. The problem here is that they may need to get Microsoft to license them portions of VirtualPC.

iTunes DVD audio-track ripping

If Apple want to shift more of their higher end iPods whilst keeping the record labels in check, why not introduce a function to rip the audio soundtrack from DVD video’s to iPod’s. I for one have a bunch of comedy shows and stand-up material I’d like to have on the go and I’m sure not paying for them again.