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14,000 hints and counting!

And the winner is ... Site News
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
end tell
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!

-rob.
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Book auction follow-up ... and a giveaway! Site News
When the Mac OS X Hints book was officially completed, I announced a charity auction of 15 signed copies of the book, with all proceeds going to Doernbecher Children's Hospital here in Portland.

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...

Have a great weekend everyone!

-rob.
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Server issues yesterday ... and hints are coming! Site News
We've been having some server issues today (Thursday), and it looks like they may continue throughout the evening. Sorry for the downtime both here and on the forum site today...

And on a completely different subject, please don't submit Panther hints yet. I won't be running any hints on Panther (10.3) until 10.3 is officially available. This is the same policy I've used for 10.1 and 10.2, and I see no reason to change it for 10.3 (unless Apple makes a truly public Panther preview; the current version is restricted to Developers only). Given the changes that are likely to occur between now and release, I won't be saving any contributed Panther hints -- they will more than likely need to be revised when the retail version ships anyway.

Again, sorry for the downtime today...

Update Friday morning: We think we've resolved the problem (there were some DNS issues that were causing MySQL queries to have unusually long lives), and things seem to be back to normal. I'm in the midst of editing and publishing today's hints; they should be online within a couple of hours. And for those of you in the USA, happy 4th of July! -rob.
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Regarding duplicate hint submissions... Site News
I've said this before, but I think it's time for another reminder. Please help me help you by searching for duplicates before you submit your hints! Although there are only four hints published today, there could probably be a lot more -- but I spent most of the last 2.5 hours finding and responding to duplicate hint submissions. Out of 27 submissions I looked through this morning, I found 18 duplicates! Finding and deleting these hints (and sending a "Sorry, duplicate" email) takes quite a bit of time, leaving much less time to edit, test, and publish the other "new" hints.

While I agree the search engine here is not the greatest (BTW, it's in the midst of an upgrade via a third-party; hopefully I'll have something back in the next couple of weeks), the searches I used to find the duplicates were really very simple. Not to pick on any one submitter, but just as a real world example, consider a hint submitted on transferring print jobs from one queue to another via drag and drop. I searched on print center drag and found eight matches, the second one of which was the match to the new hint. So please, take a couple of minutes to search the site prior to submitting your hint -- I'll have more time for new hint testing and publication, and you may save yourself a lot of excess typing!

If you're uncertain if something's a duplicate, you can also drop me an email -- I'd rather take a minute to reply to an email inquiry than to feel badly for your wasted time as I delete your two-page detailed hint on installing PHP and MySQL ;-).

Your humble editor...

-rob.
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Apologies for downtime and low hint count today... Site News
We had some downtime this morning (Apache quit and didn't want to restart; we seem to have fixed the problem now). But as a result, I only had time to get through a few hints. I'll run through the remainder of the current queue this weekend, so look for a few new hints over the next couple days.

Have a great weekend!

-rob.
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More book excerpts on O'Reilly Site News
I forgot to mention this, but over the last two weeks, O'Reilly has put up a selection of my favorite hints from the new book -- one from each chapter. The first eight went up last week, and the second eight went online last night.

I took a bunch of new color screenshots just for the online articles, so in some ways, the articles actually look a bit nicer than the book (which is in grayscale).
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Minor site update this morning... Site News
For those of you running Geeklog sites, you should check out the Featured Article on geeklog.net. There's a fairly serious security hole in Geeklog 1.3.7 (and older versions). A patch has been released, and I installed it on macosxhints.com this morning -- hopefully there are no ill effects, but if you notice something that's not behaving as expected, please let me know. Thanks to the Geeklog team for jumping on this one quickly, and to Dirk in particular for bringing this to my attention and helping with the patches to my customized code!

-rob.
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Random thoughts for a Friday... Site News
Just some random thoughts heading into the weekend ... these don't necessarily fit anywhere else, but I felt like mentioning them somewhere.
  1. If you're submitting things as "Anonymous," please include your email address somewhere in the body. I promise it won't be sold, swapped, traded, published, or otherwise revealed, but it's very useful to me! Today alone, I had three long, complex hint submissions from Anonymous, but had no way to let two of the authors know they sent in duplicates, and to ask the third a key clarifying question about their hint submission.

  2. When searching for duplicate hints prior to submitting hints, use at least three or four common words in the search phrase. For instance, before submitting a hint on command-clicking in the title bar of a Safari window, try a search on "Safari command click title" (without the quotes!). This search would find only two articles, one of which would show that your submission is a duplicate (I'm not trying to pick on anyone, but I feel really bad for you when you've typed up a hint, and I just have to delete it -- I did that six or seven times today!).

  3. Thanks for your great support of the charity book auction! The minimum bid is now at $40 per book, which means I'll be sending a check in excess of $500 to Doernbecher. The auction doesn't close until 5:59am on Monday morning, and yet I'm already humbled by your collective generosity.

  4. If you'd like to see how the book differs from the site, I noticed today that O'Reilly has put Chapter 3 - The Dock online (PDF). Having now finally seen the book for myself, I was amazed at the transformation -- I never got to see anything much more than a collection of Word documents and separate screen shots prior to receiving the book.

  5. Thank you all for the continued support of the site. Thanks to those of you who have contributed, macosxhints.com has been online and advertising free for 2.5 years now. During that time, we've grown to in excess of 25,000 registered user accounts (that happened late last week and I meant to mention it at that time), and we're now transferring around 5gb of data (between the main sites and the forums) on a daily basis! While that may pale in comparison to some of the larger sites, it continues to amaze me.

  6. Finally, and completely off-topic, but I went with a group of five others last night to see The Matrix Reloaded. Non-spoiling very short review: The consensus of all six of us was -- if you liked The Matrix, you will more than likely be thrilled with The Matrix Reloaded. I know I was, and I'm sure I'll be going again sometime in the near future!
Have a great weekend everyone!

-rob.
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Submitted hint clarifications and an auction update... Site News
If you submitted any of the following hints, please send me an email; I have a clarifying question or two, and haven't been able to get in touch with you through your macosxhints account:
  • Fast forward in iTunes [by: david-bo]
  • iTunes4 lifts 32,000 song restriction [by: ber]
  • cronjob to download Your Mac Life [by: macubergeek]
  • Replace and Rename Safari Icon [by: OneTrueDabe]
If none of you received emails from me recently, that would also be good to know -- it would indicate a problem with my outbound mail server! So if you have a second, please drop me a quick email so I can clarify your hint submission.

An update to the Mac OS X Hints: Jaguar Edition charity auction: The auction kicked off on Monday (there's a link just below the site header for the remainder of the week), and it's going well so far -- the current low asking price is $21.00, which means we've raised $315 for the Doernbecher Children's Hospital. The auction is open through Sunday night, so if you'd like to get a signed book and help a good cause at the same time, go ahead and bid -- remember that shipping is included in your price, so at $21, it's still cheaper than buying it locally or buying it online and paying shipping charges! And every penny we raise goes directly to Doernbecher...

-rob.
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'Mac OS X Hints: Jaguar Edition' - now shipping! Site News
Really, I mean it this time ... those of you who have been reading here for a while might remember way back in December of last year, I announced that the "Mac OS X Hints" book was done. If I only knew then what I know now!! Although I finished the writing back in December, editing and constant revisions to keep up with Apple's announcements kept pushing back the "final final" completion date. But as of today, you should be able to find the book in most of the online bookstores (the O'Reilly catalog page has a great selection of pre-linked online stores, so I won't repeat them here), as well as in your favorite local establishment (if they carry the Pogue Press / O'Reilly line). The book contains 561 of the most interesting hints from the site, every one of which has been re-written from scratch with tons of extra detail. We've also added literally hundreds of screenshots, and David Pogue's great editing touch has added some humor and readability to my straightforward writing style.

I am pleased to announce that I will be donating 15% of my net proceeds from the book to Doernbecher Children's Hospital, an excellent Portland hospital for children needing serious medical attention. While I may not be able to directly fund a new wing for the hospital, I'm a firm believer in "every little bit helps," and I'll be sending a donation their direction later this year based on any royalties that I receive.

In conjunction with the permanent 15% donation to Doernbecher, there will also be an eBay auction kicking off on Monday morning at 6:00am Pacific time. What are we auctioning? Up to 15 signed copies of the book, with signatures from yours truly and editor extraordinaire David Pogue. All proceeds from this auction will go directly to Doernbecher. Pogue Press / O'Reilly have graciously donated both the books and the shipping, so (net of eBay and PayPal fees), we'll be sending every dollar that's bid directly to Doernbecher. I'll post the eBay URL on Monday morning a few minutes before it kicks off ... here's your chance to own a signed copy of the book and help a great charity in the process.
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