A Very, VERY Useful Hint For Apple Remote Desktop Users

Apple ARDThe new Apple Remote Desktop is an extremely useful and powerful tool for administering Macs (one which I have been meaning to write a review of for a couple of months here…). However, the newest version of the ARD client (3.0, for those playing the home version of our game) is prone to a very annoying tic: it will randomly cease to push screen updates to the administrator client. This means that one must either manually resize the window or wander over to the desktop and restart the ARD daemon… or so I thought.
I finally got fed up with using Sneakernet to admin the boxes with stalled ARD clients, so I set out on a Hunt the ARD Wumpus adventure on Google. Foruntately, I stumbled across this extremely useful tip for restarting the ARD daemon remotely via ssh:
Simply log into the box in question as an admin and type

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/\
ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -restart -agent

Bingo. Client restarted, fullscreen refreshes recommenced. Excellent.

WhatTheFont: A Very Useful Graphics Design Tool

I stumbled (courtesy of digg) across WhatTheFont today and thought it worth sharing. WhatTheFont is a tool that will take any image that you feed it and spit out the font used to create the image in the first place, a very useful tool for graphic artists and web designers looking for just. the. right. font.
Very cool.

Calm Before The Storm?

Perhaps I’ve just been out of it today, but has anyone else felt like today was just “slow”? Perhaps it’s that everyone is looking in anticipation towards E3 and the unveiling of the Wii, PS-3, etc. and Apple’s purported unveiling of the new i/MacBooks on Thursday, or maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention to Red ForemanGeneral Hayden being appointed to head the CIA and Ooooogo Chavez floating “el Prezidente for life” trial balloons. Whatever the case may be, I’ve felt as if I were moving through molasses all day. Here’s hoping that Sony’s E3 pregame kickoff session doesn’t disappoint…

Bah, Says I

Apologies for the lack of posting – my primary workstation up n’ died on me today. I’m limping along on my ‘Doze box for the moment, hopefully soon to requisition a new machine.
To make up for the absence of posting, may I present Ask A Ninja, your one-stop-shop for a video podcast of a ninja answering common ninja-related questions emailed in by viewers. It’s surreal and weird enough that it’s as if the Homestar Runner guys went live-action and donned ninja masks.
Ninja! Pickup lines!

Excuses, Excuses.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece (complete with a nice roundup of clips from some misbehaving films) on the dodgy relationship Hollywood-produced movies have with technology in general and the Internet in particular. The WSJ blames several factors for most movies getting the tech wrong: real ‘Net tech isn’t flashy enough, people wouldn’t understand the technical stuff, branding issues keep filmmakers from using Google, MSN, etc., all of which miss the point entirely. Movie studios don’t get it wrong because of the reasons listed, they get it wrong because they’re lazy. A decent technical consultant could clear up a lot of the stupid mistakes and shortcuts studios take short-order and thus please both the technically-illiterate movie viewers as well as the geekery. It’s infuriating, I tell you.
[Editor’s note: Aron, Andy, Brad and I have often talked of forming our own movie technical consulting agency. Any directors interested in our services, feel free to contact us – we’ve all graduated from engineering schools and can easily advise studios as to how to avoid uncomfortable physical realities, such as the fact that Arnold’s arms would have been accelerated backwards off of his body at roughly 0.8c while firing the railguns in Eraser.]

Bootcamp, Take Two

Bootcamp logoI’ve had my previously-documented problems with Apple’s Bootcamp and silently cursed everyone from Redmond to Cupertino in my casting about to find someone to blame. In a fit of pique, I angrily deleted the NTFS partition Bootcamp helpfully created for me – someone or something had to be punished for my suffering. Surely, surely the blame lay with either software provider, hardware provider or both!
As should be obvious to anyone with an appreciation for foreshadowing, the problem was neither software nor hardware; rather, it was the wetware, or, to use an old sysadmin acronym, it was a PEBKAC issue. You see, the Windows XP media that I swore was patched to Service Pack 2 was, in fact, nothing of the sort. It might not even have been Service Pack 1. I humbly submitted a purchase request for XP SP2 media and re-created the Windows partition (formatting it as FAT32 this time so as to allow OS X to write to the partition if necessary). The media arrived a day later and I began the install anew.
This time, the install went flawlessly; well, as flawlessly as an install of Windows can be. I was struck by just how ugly the standard XP install is, from the blue ncurses-like text mode beginnings through the low-color “GUI” portion of the install, post-first-reboot. With the OS installed, I slid the Apple-provided driver disc into the MBP’s Superdrive and installed all of Apple’s “not-official” official drivers, rebooted and was quickly greeted by the default Playskool n’ Rolling Hills of WinXP. The urge to reboot into the safety of OS X was almost overwhelming, but I resisted. Valiantly did I download Firefox, AVG Free and Steam, and patiently did I wait while Half-Life 2 preloaded.
My impressions? Well, the hardware support isn’t quite there in the Apple drivers yet (hence the “beta” status, I guess), as the trackpad doesn’t work for two-fingered scrolling, the digital audio out is always on, the speakers do not turn off when you plug in headphones and there is no way to right-click without a second mouse button (or the help of a freeware utility). HL2 runs well, although not too well, which could be related to Apple’s reported underclocking of the MBP’s ATI graphics card.
In any event, the MBP makes a very attractive Windows laptop and one that easily stands with the best Dell, hp and Gateway can offer. Now if only someone could convince me to stay in Windows-land…