iMac

Force logout Mac users

Yet another one of those write this down Jan, it will come up again posts. There’s almost certainly a better way to force log out absent users on a Mac but heck, this works for me.

To kill off all the processes of a user named joe who’s left logged in but used the user switcher, open up the Terminal app and run these commands.

sudo su -
ps aux | grep ^joe | awk '{ print $2; }' | xargs -I{} kill -9 {}

In my kitchen is the community iMac and I have set up accounts for my whole family. Sometimes people come over and forget to log out but used fast user switching to go to the login screen or a different user.

That’s not too bad, but some software combinations I’m running often take up lots of CPU needlessly. Yes, Firefox and Adobe Flash I mean you. The whole iMac becomes slow and unresponsive.

That makes for a sad Mac. More importantly at 5:30 AM it makes for a sad me. As long as you know Joe’s user id then this will zap all of his processes and log him out as a result.

If some of those processes are stubbornly cling to life then rinse and repeat.

My subconscious at work?

I’m beginning to believe my subconscious has developed super powers. I am jonesing for a new smart phone that works better than my antiquated iPhone 3G. Given the age of my phone that’s not a tall order.

To help me in that direction, my subconscious has disabled the ability of my phone to vibrate when someone calls me. I don’t know how I managed to do it but the phone does not shake anymore.

I dislike my phone ringing but (obviously) don’t wish to miss calls. I’m going to do the factory reset of the phone to see if that fixes it. I remain hopeful since I’m not quite ready to get a replacement.

This is not a new ability for me. I’ve been jinxing electronic equipment since my Dad had a TRS-80 Model I. But I now work in a field where this is not a desirable trait so it must be I am doing it subconsciously again.

Since I’m looking for a new phone I’ve been gathering information. Did you know that you cannot surf the web while speaking on Verizon’s network using an Android phone? I had heard that but thought that was just a rumor. Apparently it’s a CDMA limitation, but more information is needed. I’ve also read that while using LTE that limitation is gone.

I’ll take another look at T-Mobile and Sprint just to see if their networks are up to par. In the meanwhile I will continue to be impressed with my latent super powers.

P.S. No, I have not lost my mind, and yes I am kidding about the super powers. The phone is still broken though.

no-iPhone-4-yet

And now an iMac

I have way too many PCs in my house, but a couple of them have been elevated to “must have”. The notebook in the kitchen had become indispensable, like coffee in the morning.

My morning wake up routine became

  1. Drink coffee
  2. Check my e-mail
  3. Check out my social networks
  4. Do a little sysadmin on my servers
  5. Drink some more coffee

And all from my kitchen notebook. But the HP notebook was overheating and automatically shutting down on a routine basis. As a result Lily and I thought “why not replace it with a Mac book?”

Once we got to the Apple store we realized that the iMac was more bang for the buck, and the small kitchen notebook never moved from its place. We now have the 21.5 inch iMac cheerfully sitting on my kitchen island and I’m writing this up on it now.

We selected an iMac because the kids use them in school and more importantly, I just want the thing to work. It’s pretty straight forward and after I ran the software updater a few times I was up to date on all the patches.

It’s got a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. The mouse was easy to get used to (it’s a Magic Mouse after all) but the keyboard makes me do an occasional double-take. There are no insert or page down/up keys and while the chiclet keys are not small, the overall size of the keyboard is.

Adding my network printer to the iMac was a breeze. Once it found the printer on the network, all I had to do was confirm that I wanted to install it.

Overall I’m really pleased with it. Everyone likes the iMac and the display looks great. The only thing that I’ll need to do is find the equivalent versions of the software I use. I’m mostly a Notepad++, PuTTY, and Firefox user so I should be able to find Mac equivalents.

The iPad is announced! I just don’t don’t get it

With some fanfare the iPad was announced today. And if I am reading it right, it’s like an iPhone but big and fat.

I don’t get it.

It’s an iPhone without the phone. It does not multitask.  So while you are using it as a ebook reader, you can’t keep any instant messenger sessions in the background.  You can probably play music, but no streaming music via the wifi.  You can probably still cut and paste, but no switching ssh sessions ’cause that will make the ssh app to exit.

What’s the appeal again? Seriously, who will step up with a really useful little tablet? I’m hoping ASUS or MSI will deliver something that I actually want. I already have an iPhone.

Looks like I'll need to try iTunes again

I don’t like DRM. It’s not an effective control since you can almost always convert the protected media into an unprotected version.It treats paying customers like trash and is meant to keep the fish swimming in neat little lines.

That’s why I buy all my online music from Amazon. I’m not an Amazon fan exactly, I just think that Apple is pandering to the music factory. The integration with my iPhone is broken so I buy music via the web and run iTunes and add the new files to my collection. There is a Firefox plugin but it works sporadically and I gave up on it.

Recently Apple relaxed their DRM.  Your account is still stamped on the downloaded music, but most of the songs are no longer encrypted. That means I can play that music on Linux, my XBox 360 (I think), etc.  For a not huge fee you can convert the songs in your collection from encrypted .m4p format to .m4a format.

It’s a start and I’ll give it a shot and pick up some tunes.  I’ll believe Apple’s iTunes Store is really “open” when the Creative MP3 player can plugin and sync using iTunes.

The iPhone 3G

iphone-3g-desk

I’ve had the iPhone 3G for a week now and have come to one inescapable conclusion:

I need to buy a watch.

The iPhone 3G is well designed and easy to use.  The screen is larger than my old BlackBerry Pearl but not too large. The built in applications are generally okay but a little on the “more is less” side. For example, the e-mail client is very functional.  I am able to have my mail delivered using my own SSL based SMTP AUTH relay (open SMTP relays are criminally stupid) and the client works well with my own IMAPS server.  Using IMAPS I get full access to my mail folders on my phone (finally!) via an SSL connection. I can view attachments such as PDF and Word documents with ease.  But the e-mail client looks sparse and drab.  It works well but could be spruced up a little.

The web browser is Safari, plain and simple.  It’s good but given the screen size I find myself visiting websites that support the iPhone directly.  Both CNN and Newsweek have good mobile websites and all of Google’s web sites are built to work well in the iPhone.

You can’t run multiple applications at the same time, so instant messenger is pretty much useless.  The only thing that will run in the background is the iPod application for playing music.  That works out for me since I read RSS feeds in Google Reader while listening to music.

The built in assisted GPS is great and I have enough apps that will let me find the nearest you-name it store.  I have not played with Google Earth on my phone but I’m told that it is insanely good and fun to play with.

Applications are plentiful and readily available from the app store. The price ranges from free to around $15, with most being less that $3.  I can recommend TouchTerm as an adequate ssh client and everyone should buy the addictive Bejeweled 2 game.  The free Facebook app is really easy to use. I have not been tempted to jail break my iPhone because I have no need to.  Except for IM, everything I want to do works.  Why hack my phone?

The video capabilities is surprisingly good.  If you have a collection of videos on your PC (oh, for talking purposes, say English subtitled Anime) you can convert them for using on the iPhone with WinFF. It’s a GUI wrapper for ffmpeg and works well.  One thing to watch out for is the audio.  Set the optional arguments in WinFF for “-async 1″ and this will fix any audio sync problems.

My old phone only went as fast as EDGE so to me the 3G network is really fast.  On my first day using the iPhone and firmware 2.1, I took the LIRR train to the office.  I listened to the radio via the 3G network using an iPhone app.  I had to restart the stream twice but that’s pretty good for a 55 minute train ride.  In Manhattan I listened to the radio via the 3G network all week as I walked to Penn Station.

The iPhone 3G comes with an A/C adapter and a USB cable.  No software CD, no docking station, nada.  That’s generally OK as iTunes is available on Apple’s web site and you can buy lots of accessories.

Tonight I went back to the Apple Store and bought another USB cable and an Air Jacket set.  This contains a clear hard plastic case that protects the shiny back of the iPhone and a film for the LCD cover.  I’m using the anti-glare one and it works really well.  No residue and all I did was clean the screen with my lens cloth and used the pre-installation film for picking up any dust.  This second visit to the Apple Store makes it official; I am now one of the Apple Undead (a repeat customer).

Oh, and the reason I need to buy a watch?  With my old BlackBerry I would use it as a time piece.  The iPhone is slightly too large to keep pulling out of my belt clip to do that. So I need to buy a watch.