Photo of another solar system

Discover has an article about the first photo of another solar system. Not just a planet, multiple planets. Way cool.

Thanks to my friend Morf for the heads up.


New MacBook and MacBookPros

So, new hardware. On the pro side, the hard drive is no longer an ordeal to swap out, which is great for those of us in the enterprise. On the down side, no more target disk mode, which was always one of the great things about working on Macs.

More later once I've had a chance to use one for a couple of days.


Thin 1.0 is out

Marc André Cournoyer announced the release of Thin 1.0 on his blog last week.


Updating gem to 1.3 on OS X Leopard

wincent.com has a clear set of instructions on how to deal with errors updating gem to 1.3.0 on OS X.


Negadon and Miroku

If you're a fan of Godzilla and/or giant robot movies, you'll like this. All the feel of the 60s movies, but done with CGI.

Negadon and Miroku.


Run Ruby Script Automator Action

Jason Foreman published an Automator action that allows you to take advantage of Cocoa in Ruby scripts on his blog.


New Blog

My friend Jack is, among other things, a technical author. He's just set up a new site for his technology writing at http://jackherrington.com.

His latest book is on Flex, and is being published by O'Reilly. More details at his blog.



Tracks is a GPL Rails application to help implement David Allen's "Getting Things Done".

I've installed it on my MBP and it looks great so far. You can tag tasks (and view only tasks for one tag), set up contexts such as work/home/misc and then view things grouped by context, set due dates, set tasks to only be visible after a certain date, view graphs and statistics about how long it takes you to complete tasks, comes with an API so you can write your own scripts to interact with it - it's very comprehensive.

Gem 1.1 released

Bug fixes, speedups. More details on Eric Hodel's blog. Update with
sudo gem update --system


iJailbreak bumped to 0.5.4 and nows supports 1.1.4

iJailbreak is a gui OS X wrapper for the ZiPhone utility.

The 0.5.4 release can jailbreak an iPhone running 1.1.4 directly and is available from http://code.google.com/p/ijailbreak/downloads/list, and you can read more details from the developers at http://ijailbreak.com/.

Suspicious Package update

Suspicious Package is a QuickLook plugin that lets you examine pkg (and now mpkg) files from Finder with QuickLook. No more having to drop into Terminal.app and use lsbom.

Here are the bullet points from the release notes:

  • Added support for metapackages.

  • Fixed problem where the actual installation location was not shown for some packages.

  • Added indication when a package requires authentication with an administrator password.

  • Added indication when a package requires a system restart (or shut down, or log out) after installation.

  • Added indication when a package has install scripts, and an option to view the actual scripts (see details).

  • Added support for installer receipts and .bom files

Download the new release from http://www.mothersruin.com.


Matz on Ruby

I got to see Matz speak on Ruby at work, and finally found the video of the lecture.


Handbrake 0.9.2 released

Supports AppleTV Take 2, iPhone/iPod, Dolby 5.1 sound in mp4 files, many more new features.

Only runs on Leopard, and download it from http://handbrake.fr.


iJailbreak 0.5.2

iJailbreak is an OS X wrapper for the ZiPhone utility.

This release can jailbreak an iPhone running 1.1.3 directly, no more having to install a helper package onto an already jailbroken 1.1.2. It's available from http://code.google.com/p/ijailbreak/downloads/list, and you can read more details from the developers at http://ijailbreak.com/. There is currently no iPod touch support in iJailbreak.


I got to climb inside a tokamak...

I went to Disneyland on Tuesday for a company trip, and while spending several hours in the park with only co-workers there was cool, what was more cool was the stop at the UCLA Energy Science Lab we made on the way back.

I'd driven down with a group of coworkers rather than suffer through the airport experience, and it turns out Pete and Ian knew someone at UCLA who got us a tour of the Energy Science Lab's Electric Tokamak. We got to climb inside since it's in the middle of being renovated, and here are my pics.

200 tons of steel torus, and another hundred tons of magnets

Here's a shot of the entrance to the torus

Me about to climb inside.

Me inside, looking out.

A shot of the inside of the torus

To give some perspective of the size, here's a shot of Pete and Chris inside.

Me inside, with our guide Russell to my right.

Me in front of one of the 5 Farad capacitor banks.

They have two banks like this and each of the blue cylinders is a 1500 microfarad cap.

Me in front of a linear accelerator in the basement.

The accelerators and tokamak need their own substation - each of the big blue boxes here is 1 megawatt.

Here's a pic of the small accelerator.


This one was running, here's the video


1.1.3 Jailbreak

iJailBreak 0.4.1 has been released and is available for download at code.google.com.

This will jailbreak the iPhones and iPod Touch.


QuickLook plugin for .PKG

There's a handy QuickLook plugin to show what files a pkg will install at http://MothersRuin.com/software/SuspiciousPackage/

Suspicious Package is a plugin for the Quick Look feature of Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). It allows you to preview the contents of a standard Apple installer package without launching the Installer. Just select the icon in the Finder and select Quick Look



ZFS update for the bleeding edge

Saw a post on zfs-discuss today, ZFS for Leopard source & binaries have been posted to zfs.macosforge.org. This includes some new fixes over the one on ADC, but it is also bleeding edge - there's no PKG file to install, so you have to be comfortable manually copying a bunch of files at the command line with sudo to use this, and there are a bunch of known bugs (listed at zfs.macosforge.org).

It's not an official Apple release, so if you break anything on your system with it, I'm sure their response is going to be "reinstall everything - you did have backups, right?"

That said, Noël's announcement said that he has his homedir on ZFS now, which is what I've been wanting to do ever since I heard there might be ZFS support in 10.5.

Here's the list of bugs fixed in the 102A rev:

Bugs Fixed in this Rev:

  • 5448925: sync ZFS with Solaris build 72

  • 5405398: zfs needs kqueue(2) API support

  • 5602507: Leopard9A581: Kernel trap at 0×4d351d9c, type 14=page fault, registers:

  • 5592757: Kernel panic when writing to a zfs volume

  • 5482932: Raidz parity rewrite issue

  • 5641577: ZFS: panic: zap->zap_u.zap_fat.zap_phys->zap_magic == 0×2F52AB2ABULL failed

  • 5621659: assertion failed in /Users/local/zfs-101-latest_fixes/zfs_kext/zfs/zfs_dir.c line 730: error == 0

  • 5643944: ZFS get/set and mountpoints are misbehaving

  • 5645880: Finder copy and “delete” broken in zfs-101 plus fixes..


iTunes & FUSE

iTunesFS is a FUSE filesystem that lets you see all your iPods & iTunes playlists as Finder folders. Download it here.


rspec_on_rails sqlite3 error

I started a new project last night, and decided to use rspec_on_rails. I was following some examples from Luke Redpath's blog entry and got the following error:

SQLite3::SQLException in 'A player should be invalid without a user_id'
SQL logic error or missing database

I eventually tracked down an email from David Chelimsky on rspec-users that explained this could be fixed by setting config.use_transactional_fixtures = false in

Anyway, posting it here to make it easier to google for.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Copyright 2007-2010, Joseph P. Block, Some Rights Reserved.

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