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One week to 10.3... Site News
At 8:00pm (in your local time zone) next Friday, OS X 10.3 (aka Panther) will be generally available for purchase.

If you're planning on a Friday evening session with Apple's newest OS X release, tune in to macosxhints.com at 9:00pm Pacific USA Time for a plethora of pleasing Panther tips -- we'll have a good number of hints hitting the site one hour after Panther hits the streets (just enough time for verification of their functionality on the final release).

-rob.
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More updates this weekend... Site News
With some luck, there will be a couple of special reports published this weekend. First, I hope to finish my overdue OS X "Intro to OS X Troubleshooting" report -- this is just my collection of techniques for diagnosing OS X issues, from basic troubleshooting through online resources.

Second, and perhaps of more interest, I hope to publish an in-depth hands-on review covering the new dual G5 PowerMac -- yes, after 100 days in the order queue, my new G5 finally arrived this week! I've spent the last couple of days updating this old benchmark chart (the new chart is not yet online), as well as running some new head-to-head comparisons of my current box (G4/733) against the G5. I'm going to try to pull it all together into one comprehensive report for anyone considering one of the new boxes.

Update: Yep, 0 for 2 this weekend. I did make some great progress with the G5 writeup, and hope to have it online in the next day or two -- both articles just turned out to be much more work than I anticipated, and family matters took precedence for much of the weekend ... sorry!
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Call for hints: Mac OS X 10.3 [aka Panther] Site News
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.

Your humble hint servant;
-rob.
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More hints this weekend... Site News
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!

Have a great weekend...

-rob.
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Remembering September 11th... Site News
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.

-rob.
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New feature - a real Frequently Asked Questions system! Site News
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).

-rob.
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Overnight downtime... Site News
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.

-rob.
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Minimal hints today... Site News
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.

-rob.
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Watch for formatting changes when searching hints Site News

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").

Original hint

Search results URL

The correct shell script code as it appeared in the original hint is:


#!/bin/csh -f
/usr/bin/hdid "$1"
if ($status != 0) exit
/usr/bin/open -a "Mail"
The incorrect code that appeared in the searched for hint is:

#!/bin/csh -f
/usr/bin/hdid \"$1\"
if ($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.]
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Experimental feature coming Friday morning... Site News
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...

-rob.
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