The Arctic Mac



My list of "things I'd like to add" before a release of MLX is not getting shorter fast enough! I'd like to have a release in the next week or two, but I'm worried I simply don't have the time to accomplish the needed items on the list. We'll see how it goes, and I'll keep you all updated.


Somehow time always seems to run away with me here; it's been nearly 11 months since I posted anything here. I remember a day where the goal was to add something to this website at least once a week. Things have changed a bit!

For those who have been wondering, I am working on a new release of MacLampsX (as hinted at in the last entry). In many ways it feels like it will be a minor update (my girlfriend says "but doesn't it already work just fine?"), but there will be many significant changes as well, which should hopefully make the interface more comfortable and bring it up to date with what Mac users expect.

More coming soon hopefully...


Had a long chat tonight with a buddy of mine, Andy Matuschak, who's a fantastic UI designer. He had lots of good suggestions for MacLampsX, which means the next version should be awesome. It also means that I've got a lot of changes to make, and it certainly won't be done before Christmas. Next Christmas, maybe.


New release of MacLampsX. Or more specifically, of the screensaver, as the app hasn't changed at all. Screensaver is now compatible with Mac OS X 10.6. Enjoy!


So, I'd like to push out an update to at least get the screensaver up to a version compatible with Snow Leopard in the next couple days. I've got a lot of other work to do right now too, but I think I can at least take time to throw together a new download file with a version of the screensaver that works under SL. However, I don't want to ship a release that doesn't work. Send me an email if you'd be interested in beta testing the new release of the screensaver. This goes for people on 10.5 or 10.6. Thanks!


I think I've probably asked this before, but would anyone be interested in contributing translations for MacLampsX? I speak a little teeny tiny bit of French, but not really enough to translate MLX. Anyway, if you're interested, please send me an email!


More updates to the tutorials section. Namely, an article about how I made Spotlight work more the way I want it. Maybe useful to some people, probably not for everyone though.


Okay... so, updates to the links page (removing obsolete/stupid links) and to the tutorials page. More work on the tutorials page (as well as maybe MLX, though I'm mainly feeling like playing at the moment) soon.


Really, this site is badly in need of attention. Mainly the new things kind of attention. As such, maybe I'll post some new things sometime soon.

Like for example, when I installed Snow Leopard last weekend, I discovered that it requires special things of screensavers, so the MacLampsX screensaver no longer loads. So I'm working on a small update to make this work. Among other things, this will mean that MacLampsX is becoming 64 bit. Which will also mean that MacLampsX is going to start requiring Mac OS X 10.6 or newer, unless I can figure out some good way to maintain two versions of the codebase. Actually, we'll see - I might be able to get away with making it 10.5 compatible, but no promises.

In other news, I also have a tutorial that I might add soon, provided I don't get lazy and decide not to. Really, there's no reason for me to be that lazy, since it's already essentially written, but there you have it.

You'd think I might have bothered to update the site sometime in the past 3 months, given that I've been on summer vacation, but apparently not. Apparently I have better things to do or something. Not that I've been doing them.


There's a bug in MLX 2.0 where if you had more than one custom theme defined in 1.x it will crash on launch. If you're having trouble with this bug, send me an email, and I'll email you a build that should be fixed. No release for now, because I'm still trying to crank out a full release with more betterness. But maybe a release sooner rather than later in light of this bug.


I've been putzing around in the MacLampsX code a bit the past couple days. Right now I'm mostly touching up little things that really just don't work right. Mostly the music box (and maybe the screensaver) since they got thrown together at the last minute for a release last year. No promises on a release date though. I must say though, vacation is nice!


It's been a very long time. Anyway, the holiday season is upon us. JonDesu has been kind enough to provide some new bulbs for the MacLampsX bulb archive, (and several other people have asked me how to make bulbs), so there are now more bulbs, and instructions for making bulbs.

I'm about done with school for the term, but I haven't really decided whether or not to try to push through an update to MacLampsX this year. I'll let you know in a couple days. Happy Holidays!


Sorry about the downtime. Things still seem to be a little bit funky, but at least the FTP server is working again, so most things should be back online and functioning. Let me know if anything's missing.


It's here! MacLampsX 2.0 is finally here! It's got support for multiple displays. It's got snow. It's got music. It's got support for bigger and better and funkier bulbs. And it's only a few clicks away.

That said, there are a couple things you should know. There are a couple things that should (and eventually will) be drag and drop, but aren't yet due to time constraints. The big ones are setting the picture for the screensaver and adding music to the music player. Come to that, the whole music player interface rather lacks polish. But it's functional. And I told myself that you people would like a release now with a music player that didn't support drag-n-drop over a release in a year (probably the next time I'll get around to it) that does fancy tricks and jumps through hoops to make you happy. Besides. A release now doesn't preclude a better one in 8 months. I didn't even decide to add the music player until like a week before the beta went out. It's sorta like trying to rewrite iTunes 1.0 in two days.

Oh, and go make some bulbs to fill up the new MacLampsX Bulb Archive.


So overoptimistic! At this point, I'm waiting to hear back from one of my testers on an issue we're clearing up, and I've got four more of those known issues that the beta had to clear up (but I can test those myself), and a couple website things to finish up, and then we'll have a release. Ever so sorry about not making it by Christmas, but at least you'll have it for next year. Also, unless this ends up taking way longer than I think, there won't be any more news here until release. Hopefully only a few more days!

Oh, and I "fixed" things so Comcast's new contact form works. It's less than ideal, since it can't be integrated into my site, but at least it works.


Still got a few bugs to work out before a final release. At this point I think it's mainly the ones I knew about when I shipped the beta, and then a little work on the website to prepare things here, plus getting the disk image formatted and such. So, I don't think I'll have it ready before we leave (I still have to pack and it's only a couple hours), but hopefully it'll be all ready tonight by the time I get to an internet connection, and I'll be able to post it all then. Cheers!


Well! I finished and shipped the beta of MacLampsX 2.0 to testers about half an hour ago (so, about 1AM), only a week behind schedule. What we're going to do is have an accelerated beta-testing period for them to help me work out all the bugs, and then we'll have a release. Hopefully by Monday morning, because after that I'll be out of town, so working on software will become a lower priority.

I must say, it's a relief to know that I won't have to spend the entire day tomorrow coding. It'll be a nice change. I haven't been doing much else since getting back from school.

Also, on a somewhat unrelated note, one of the things I did do shortly after arriving home was to complete a small project I've been thinking about for a couple years now. See, LED christmas lights are a really cool idea. They help cut down on power consumption a lot, for one thing. And they're, well, cooler, than regular lights. But there's a problem. Which is that diodes only allow current to pass in one direction, so when you run a string of LED christmas lights on standard wall AC, they flicker at 60Hz. Which is incredibly annoying. To the point of giving me headaches sometimes. The solution is fairly straightforward. Basically, you take four (other) diodes, and hook them together into a full-wave rectifier. Which ups the flicker frequency to 120Hz. Which is significantly above the threshold of human vision, so that you can't tell. Well, actually you can still tell a little bit, but it's *much* better. I'd think they'd have figured this out by now and started including them already in commercially sold LED strings, but I have yet to see it (though I haven't bought any for a few years, so I can't actually vouch for this, since you have to actually plug them into the wall to tell for sure). Also, if you want to do even better, you can get a capacitor and drop it across the rectifier in the right place to even out the waveform, so that there's no flicker at all. The first and second days back home I took a bit of time and made a rectifier. Four 1KV diodes plus the plug from an old string of christmas lights, plus a container and substrate to hold the circuit, plus some solder, some epoxy and a few hours time, and I've got a working rectifier that I can plug the lights into, and then plug into the wall and get rid of the headache of flickering LED lights. I learned a few things this go round, so if I decide to make more... I'll be ready. Also, I may decide at some point in the future to post instructions. Anyhow, look for more stuff about MacLampsX 2.0 very very soon!


Quick update here, then I'm off to get some sleep. I've got just three big things left on the todo list before the beta goes out to testers. I've got a new feature to implement (it's a surprise), a little drawing code left to finish up for some more new stuff (another surprise), and a couple last preferences to implement that give you control over the new features. Hopefully I can finish most of that tomorrow, and almost certainly by Tuesday. Then the beta goes out, and people play with the new toy, and I work on a few last things that don't need beta-testing (documentation, maybe a new bulb, and possibly some web-site stuff), and then we have our release. Check back soon for more info!


Alright. About now, lots of you are probably starting to be looking at MacLampsX and thinking "gee, it's been a while since there was a new version." And you're right. It's time for an update. Well, almost time. See, it isn't actually time until my update is stable and complete. On that note, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that I've made quite a bit of progress and that we're getting pretty close now. The bad news is that I've got quite a lot of work to do in the next week, so I'll be spending a lot of my time doing other things. However, the reason I've got a lot to do involves a final paper that's due next week. Once the paper's done, I don't have all that much left to do, and by next Friday, I'll only have finals to do, which is a finite time commitment (since I have virtually no studying to do). SO... The goal is, assuming I don't run into big problems with the new features I need to implement, to have a beta version published by the 15th. Hopefully this will give me enough time that I'll be able to stick to it, and that I may even be able to beat that, but we'll see.

That said, I'm planning a 2-3 day private beta period before I release. As I'm preparing for the beta I'll send out emails to everyone who's participated in past betas or who's expressed interest over the past few years asking if they'd like to beta test. In addition, the first five people who contact me between now and release asking to beta test will be added to the list. Good luck, happy holidays, and see you in a week or two.

PS. You should really just ignore MacLampsX and go put up some real lights. They're much nicer. Seriously.


So, college. Yeah. It's fun, but it's a lot of work too. So, I've been getting some questions about MacLampsX. As I said in response to the most recent one of these, yes, MLX 2.0 is on my to do list for this fall. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to put too many things on my to do list, and because the only thing I get out of developing MLX is the gratification of receiving glowing emails occasionally, it tends to be one of the lowest items on the list. Sorry. I'll still try to get it done.

Oh, and Leopard comes out next Friday! Yay. I'm going to spend the evening at the nearest Apple Retail location. Maybe I'll see you there, but if so, neither of us will probably know it. Cheers!


Time always seems to run away with me. Just to let you know what's going on here, since it's been a couple months. I'm leaving for college sometime in the next month or so (see, I'm riding my bike, and I haven't figured out exactly how long it takes to get from here to California), and things are a bit crazy before I go. I've got a website to finish for a client, a networking job to finish at my house here (installing CAT6 cables in half the house), I've got work a couple days a week (in general - this week it was just one), and I've got to plan my trip, and pack, and cleanup whatever I decide to leave behind before I depart. The upshot is that I'm quite busy, and that various projects related to this website (such as MacLampsX and other free software I'd like to be working on) have taken a lower priority for the moment, because of, well, life getting in the way. And I have no idea what things'll be like at school. BUT... I'll almost definitely remember to post again before I leave (and probably after I get there as well) to share what's up. Sorry to be disappointing.


Double good news. I added the extra 2 words to the CSS and IE 7 now renders correctly. Just an issue of it having different default stylesheets than the others. The only question is whether it actually does the hover effects. Hm...


Good news! It looks like IE 7's got decent rendering capabilities so that this site actually renders correctly in it. (or will, I think as soon as I make one little no-problem change to the CSS). YAY... Finally a world in which all the major browsers at least MOSTLY work.


I decided it was time to redo the site a bit. The code is much cleaner than before, with a much better separation between the content (in the XHTML) and the presentation (in the CSS). The markup has cleared up a lot, and degrades much more gracefully without the CSS (if your browser lets you turn off CSS, try it and see). It's actually really cool. The only images actually hard linked into the pages are preview images (in the graphics section) and the page icons (which, if you have a good browser, will appear in the URL bar). All the other images are inserted dynamically with CSS, meaning that, if for some reason the CSS doesn't load, you just get plain text. No crazy looking doubled images like what happened the old way. It's even cooler though, because most sites load images to replace text use a bunch of extra web elements to be able to hide the text while drawing the image. This doesn't. Just plain markup. I might write a tutorial for it sometime in the future. As far as browser compatibility, it's definitely go for Gecko-based, WebKit based, and Opera on the Mac. I haven't had the opportunity to test it under IE, but I'm not sure I really care about IE too much either.

In addition, I've decided I needed to reopen the contact form, so that people can get in touch with me, so if you've wanted to do so these last couple months, now's a good time. I'll probably start getting spam from it again soon, but there's not much I can do about that at the moment, since I can't write my own server scripts. I thought about trying to use AJAX to log people's IP Addresses in the mailform using an IP script on another site (getting the user's IP requires server-side scripting), but then unhappily discovered that AJAX doesn't allow cross site stuff yet. Boo.

In case I neglected to make it clear earlier, yes I did change the layout of the site too. I felt that the old sections were no longer an accurate representation of the work that I was posting here, so I came up with new ones that better fit the bill. The links page has seen significant updates, and all the tutorials have been restyled to match the main site (mostly by way of pasting in the 10 or so short lines of HTML that make up the header and navigation). All the old news entries have been moved to the "Old News" page linked below.

And the last news item for today is that I'm finally on summer vacation, which leaves me with three primary activities: 1) swim team, 2) part time work, which right now is non-existant because I have to finish training and the manager hasn't written back to say when I'm supposed to come in next, and 3) website/computer stuff - I've been working on this website today, and I've got another website plus a couple programming tasks to work on on top of that. So hopefully we'll see more updates the next couple months, before it's off to school in the fall. Cheers for summer vacation!

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