MacPorts revisited

I’m setting up my new (old) iMac and I thought I’d give MacPorts another try. I used it since the late 2000s. (I forget why I moved from Fink to MacPorts.) For the last five (?) years or so I’ve used Homebrew, but I’ve always been uneasy about making /usr/local writable, and never convinced by the blandishments on the Homebrew site. I heard about Nix, but before I tried something really different, I thought I’d give MacPorts another look.

So far, so good. I prefer to need sudo to install software. The only real problem I’ve encountered is that the MacPorts version of Pandoc is so old it can’t read docx files. (#sad!) But Pandoc has its own installer, so I’m trying that out too.

What I did after installing Linux

I had a hard drive fail on my laptop, so I put the best parts of several broken machines together into a sum-greater-than-the-whole new machine. Right now, I’m installing Ubuntu Linux 19.04. And, since it’s been a long time since I blogged what I do afterward, here is the mid-2019 edition.

References: the usual “what to do” blog posts, e.g., this, this, and this.

Start by installing updates:

$ sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade

Then gnome tweaks, to make your GUI act less lobotomized:

$ sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

The specific tweaks I want are left-side buttons, static workspaces, desktop icons for home but not trash, the size of the monospace font, and (since this is a 13″ laptop) the scaling factor. I also add a percentage to the battery indicator and weekday to the clock. While I’m monkeying around with my settings, I set up night mode. And then I make sure that Alt-Tab behaves correctly. (See here.)

Then I install the usual assortment of web browsers:

$ sudo apt install chromium-browser

(I also install Google Chrome from a .deb I download from their website.)

Then a whole bunch of things I need:

$ sudo apt install caffeine
$ sudo apt install vim

Then, before I forget, I install libreadline for other things to use:

$ sudo apt install libreadline-dev

Next, I finish installing the usual software subjects:

$ sudo apt install imagemagick colordiff jhead wv pandoc abiword antiword eyed3

Stuff from other systems

Then I’m ready to start pulling things from other machines. The easiest way to do that is to go over there and rsync them to me. So:

$ sudo apt install openssh-server
$ ssh-keygen  # hitting ENTER at each prompt
$ ssh-copy-id {whatever the other machines are}

Then I pop over to those machines and send the appropriate contents back here.

Ruby

Then I install ruby so I can use all the ruby tools I’ve developed over the years:

$ sudo apt install libssl-dev zlib1g-dev
$ git clone git://github.com/sstephenson/rbenv.git ~/.rbenv
$ git clone git://github.com/sstephenson/ruby-build.git ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
$ cd ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
$ hash -r  # might not be necessary
$ rbenv install ( --list | some-version )
$ gem install coderay csv fileutils kramdown mini_magick optimist pericope pry tty-color tty-command tty-screen tty-table zxcvbn-ruby

More Software

Also Telegram, if this machine will be used for your private messaging.

And Dropbox.

Replacing a 27″ iMac Hard Drive

I picked up a gorgeous 27″ iMac at the last UAA Surplus sale. But the fans run. A lot. I think someone put a new hard drive in it without considering how Apple makes everything as hard as it can possibly be.

Here’s some details on the problem. Apple has its own way of sensing the temperature on the hard drive. Because of course they do. And unless you get an Apple branded hard drive, or want to short the pins on Apple’s HD cable, you have to get a thermal sensor cable from OWC. It only costs $40, plus another $10 to ship to Alaska. (Or you could check first, like I should have, and find out it’s cheaper on Amazon, and you get free Prime shipping too. Sigh.)

Sigh. But! If get it working properly again … I’m telling you, this machine is gorgeous:

The dim monitor on the left is a perfectly adequate HD display from Dell.

Linux on Old Macs

I was recently given a second 20″ iMac 2007 to go along with the first. They’re beautiful machines, but Apple doesn’t want me to keep using it, so they’re making all their software not work on it anymore. So I’ve been wondering how they’d do as Linux machines.

Apparently, it isn’t very easy to get an old iMac to boot a Linux system. I don’t think I have a Firewire cable, much less a HDD enclosure with a Firewire interface.

NMT to disinvite Harrison Schmitt?

I posted the following to an alumni group’s Facebook page in response to a post that cited this article and invited alumni to ask the school’s president to disinvite Schmitt.

I have difficulty believing there is a serious movement to disinvite Dr. Harrison Schmidt as commencement speaker. He’s an astronaut who’s explored — as a trained geologist — another planet, on foot. If he’s wrong about climate science, well, he won’t be the first person to demonstrate the Dunning Kruger effect. I’m think in particular of a physics professor who was determined to bring back punched card media for his simulation software.

But more than that, I am appalled that the professors at Tech are failing to teach their students that Science is not a collection of orthodoxies that must not be questioned. When I went to Tech, I heard from my petroleum engineering friends that one of the geology faculty refused to subscribe to the theory of plate tectonics. I don’t know if that was true, but it was believable because people were allowed to hold unpopular opinions. When I was at Tech, we read “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and learned the big problem in science is overcoming the informal orthodoxies that creep in despite our best intentions. We watched Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and shook our heads at the medieval clergy who treated Galileo as a heretic and refused to look through his telescope.

But worst, I think, is the boorish gauchery of disinviting a speaker from an event after the invitation had been made and accepted. What kind of people would even consider it? A few years ago, I thought President Trump was 50% vulgarian, 50% clown, and 100% reality show personality. Today, I’m afraid he embodies the spirit of our age. The idea that Techies would outdo him in classlessness… it’s #Sad.

Mojave Finder Misfeature

MacOS X has a feature that nobody else has: Miller Columns. (There were evidently once a few Linux file managers that implemented it, but I’ve never seen it, and I’m too lazy to track them down. OpenStep did, which was where I first encountered them, but that was a straight knockoff of NeXTSTEP. Besides, nobody uses a bare Window Manager any more. The hipsters these days are all about desktop environments and— Hey! You kids! Get off my lawn, you kids.)

Miller Columns, we were talking about. Neat feature. It’s been there forever. Since before it was MacOS X.

So of course, in Mojave, Apple screwed it up. Behold:

The preview (right-most) panel used to provide some useful information. Now it has a button that enables you to see some useful information. THANK YOU SO MUCH, APPLE.

Issues with printing PDF from Preview since updating to Mojave

Mojave removed the ability of Apple’s apps (preview, pages, etc.) to print using the Konica Print drivers. There’s a Konica driver, but Apple’s “Library Validation” means that Apple’s apps won’t use it. (I assume they enforce the same rules for software from the App Store, but I haven’t checked.) In order to get the full use of a driver, you have to use a 3rd party. Do that and you have access to all the features in the Konica print drivers.

I imagine that other vendors of fancy printers with non-basic features provide their own client software, like the weird little apps that come with inkjets and scanners. Those apps can use the full feature set of their vendors’ libraries. But nobody else can, if they’re using library validation.

So the solution is to NOT USE APPLE APPS (or presumably App Store Apps) to do your printing. Use 3rd party apps like Chrome or Acrobat, so you can get access to the print driver’s feature set. See more in this post.

This strategy works, if you think of computers as basically glorified iPhones with a walled garden of curated apps that your grandmother can safely use on the internet. But if you think of them as general purpose devices, with a huge ecosystem of applications to leverage to create value, well, good luck with that. “It just works” has been grayed out. You can learn more at the Apple developer forums (from this link: https://www.google.com/search?q=10.14+library+validation). See also this from Xerox.

Cross posted from the Apple Support Forum, in case it disappears there.

UPDATE. I saw this too late. Try creating “presets” in the 3rd party app, and then using that from within the crippled Apple app.