Based on the apparent development schedule, it seems that Panther's ship date is fast approaching, and that most features have probably stabilized by now (given build numbers now into the high "Bs"). As such, I'd like to start collecting Panther hints. If you have access to Panther and have discovered an interesting hidden feature, please feel free to submit it.
A couple of cautions on this matter: Panther is an unreleased product in current development. If you have legal access to the builds, you also have agreed to and signed a non-disclosure agreement, which means you shouldn't be telling anyone about it. If you have it illegally, well, then, you shouldn't have it at all :). In either case, it's up to you and your conscience as to whether you wish to send in any hints or not. Given how openly Panther is discussed on ThinkSecret, MacRumors, and the other Mac news/rumor sites, it seems Apple isn't too concerned about keeping the lid on their new release ... still, it's worth noting the caution.
No Panther hints will be published before the operating system is shipping and available to everyone, whenever that may be. I will also be testing all submitted hints against the final Panther release prior to publication, to insure that nothing has changed between hint submission and release of the final version.
If you decide to submit a Panther hint, please submit it with Panther: at the front of the hint title, as that will make it much easier for me to track for the next X days/weeks/months until Panther's release.
I have a couple of longer hints in the queue that I'm going to try to get out this weekend, so give us a quick glance sometime before Sunday night for a few more hints...
On a side note, macosxhints.com hit three interesting milestones within the last couple of weeks -- over 30,000 registered user accounts, 30,000,000 total database hits (as shown on the stats page), and over 4,000 hints published ... amazing, compared with what I thought might happen when I launched a few years back. Thanks to all of you for helping make this site so interesting and useful to everyone -- myself included!
Two years ago today, 3,016 people were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. In the days since those attacks, thousands of additional innocent men, women, and children have also lost their lives to meaningless violence; lives all lost due to the seeming inability of the human race to simply get along with one another. As a new father, I have hopes that my daughter will be able to grow up in a world at peace, but I fear the reality of the continuation of today's troubled times.
My sympathies go out to all those affected by the terrorist attacks and their continuing repercussions. I will not be running any new hints today; the hints can wait one day while I pause to reflect on how the world has changed since September 11th, 2001.
I hope you all have a peaceful day, and always remember that life is precious and your family and friends are your most important assets.
The "Frequently Asked Questions" list that I post here occasionally had gotten quite out of date -- it was last update in January! Instead of updating it and just letting the same thing happen again in the future, I went looking for a better solution.
After a bit of Googling, I found what I was looking for in Eclectic Designs' CascadianFAQ FAQ engine. This is a simple freeware PHP and MySQL product that makes creating and maintaining a FAQ list much easier. While there are many products in this category (and I looked at a few of them), I liked CascadianFAQ's simple setup and minimal formatting (which made it easy to wrap in the macosxhints layout). I had it up and running within five minutes, and wrapped in the site's look a few minutes after that.
So after a bit of work this weekend to transfer the existing FAQ content, I'm pleased to announce that the new official macosxhints.com FAQ is now online. Feel free to peruse the question and answers, and use the submission form if there's something you're interested in having added to the list. There's also a new FAQ link in the site's top menu (it replaced the About link, as all that info is now contained in the FAQ).
Yesterday afternoon, we upgraded MySQL on the server. Everything seemed fine. Last night, just after midnight my time, MySQL and PHP decided to stop talking to each other, leading to the error message many of you saw both here and on the forums. Apparently there was an incompatibility between the new MySQL shared libraries and PHP. Why this didn't crop up immediately when we upgraded MySQL, who knows. The fix was to force the installation of the old libraries alongside the new, so that they're both there for PHP. We'll also be upgrading PHP soon, which should solve the problem for good.
Sorry for the downtime...I'm feverishly working on some hint postings now, so I hope to have a few up this morning yet.
Due to an early morning commitment, there's only one new "real" hint this morning, and I have an evening obligation as well, so this is probably it for the day.
Logged in users, however, will see four new "Is it a hint?" entries for their perusal -- I publish these occasionally when I can't decide if something is or is not a hint, and asked the logged-in viewers for comments as to their thoughts on the matter. Be forewarned, there's minimal editing involved, so you'll probably find formatting errors, typos, etc., and none of these possible hints are tested. If you'd like to see them, though, you just need to get a free account and login.
Based on the comments to the entries, some of these may show up as true "hints" in the next week or so. When we tried this for the first time last week, though, we went zero for six on converting possible hints into actual hints ... maybe this batch will have a better outcome.
Be careful when searching for a hint, especially if you use more than one search term. If the returned hint contains code, it may not display correctly. Open the following URL's in separate tabs. The first is the original hint. The second is how the hint appeared as the result of a search (on "encrypted disk image").
The correct shell script code as it appeared in the original hint is:
if ($status != 0) exit
/usr/bin/open -a "Mail"
The incorrect code that appeared in the searched for hint is:
if ($status != 0) exit
/usr/bin/open -a \"Mail\"
If you were to copy and paste the incorrect code, as I did, you might spend days, as I did, figuring out how to make it work and wondering why the author of the hint submitted incorrect code in the first place.
[robg adds: There are some known issues with the search engine in Geeklog, and this is one of them. In the above example, after I run a search, I edit the URL and remove the part that starts with &query=... and then hit Enter to load the "original" version of the hint. In addition, if you search for spaces, backslashes, ticks, etc., you'll get SQL errors. I have hired out fixes for these glitches, along with search engine enhancements, to a third party, and I expect to have a revised search function in place within a few weeks.]
As an experiment, I have posted five stories for Friday morning in a new "Is it a hint?" category. This category is only visible to registered users (anyone can sign up for a free account and become a registered user, of course), and the idea is to take the "marginal" hints and get a general consensus from the registered users before making a final decision on publishing the hint to all readers.
If you're a registered user, you'll see these five hints about 15 minutes or so before the day's normal hints appear. Please feel free to comment on each hint's technical accuracy and suitability for general publication. After a few days have gone by, I'll review the entries in the category, transferring the "yes" entries to the proper categories for all readers, and deleting the others.
This doesn't mean I'm no longer reviewing hints, testing them, or looking for duplicates. Rather, there have always been a few hints each week that fell into a "maybe" category, and instead of just deleting them or asking one or two friends, I figure I'd ask the registered users for their thoughts.
If you'd rather not see these "Is it a hint?" entry, just go your display preferences, and disable the category (it's the last one on the list). Once you've done that, macosxhints will look as it always has. Also, please feel free to use the comments to this hint to give me feedback on the general concept of the "Is it a hint?" category. Hopefully it will lead to more good hints making it to the site that may have otherwise dropped by the wayside...
There were a total of 1,385 unique entries for the free book giveaway ... and instead of using Excel to pick the winner, my buddy Jacco wrote me an AppleScript to do the work directly in Mail:
tell application "Mail"
set myfolder to "zBook giveaway"
set mycount to the count of messages of mailbox myfolder
set randNum to (random number from 1 to mycount)
set mysender to sender of message randNum of mailbox myfolder as text
display dialog "the winner is: " & mysender
set the clipboard to mysender
Running this script gave me the following results:
LRogers has been notified by email. In the event that he/she is unable to claim the prize by 5pm today, I'll run the AppleScript again :-). Thanks everyone for participating; I must say I wasn't really expecting over 1,300 emails during the weekend!
The auction wrapped a while back (with 14 winners each offering $50 for the book), but between the job, the site, the impending arrival of our daughter, and any number of other excuses, I hadn't gotten around to finishing the project. I took the time today, though, and wrote out a check for $800 (I added some of my own money to get to a nice, even number) to Doernbecher, and included a letter explaining where the donation came from. Click on the letter image to the left (or just click here) to see the entire letter (it's a 100Kb JPEG image) if you're interested. The value of the donation was also doubled due to a matching gift campaign by the Ford Family Foundation, so in essence, we donated $1,600 to the hospital!
You'll note that I said 14 books -- one auction winner couldn't be located, so there's actually one signed book left over. Instead of auctioning it off, though, I thought it'd be kind of fun to give away to a lucky reader. So if you'd like a signed (David Pogue and myself) copy of Mac OS X Hints Jaguar Edition, just send me an email (SORRY, CONTEST IS CLOSED NOW!). You don't need any content in the email; just a valid return email address so I can let you know if you've won. I'll collect emails through the end of the weekend, put them in a list, and have Excel generate a random number between 1 and N to determine the lucky winner...