Archive for the ‘Random Ramblings’ Category

Indie+Relief: Help Haiti AND Get Great Software

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The earthquake in Haiti has nearly destroyed what was already a fragile country. Please join us in assisting in the relief effort.

On Wednesday, January 20 St. Clair Software and 100+ other developers are donating all sales to help provide medical care and supplies for Haitian earthquake victims. Please visit the Indie+Relief web site and purchase any products you need, think you might need or have even considered buying. All revenue will be donated to charities that benefit Haitian earthquake relief.

Even if you don’t purchase anything, donate to the charity of your choice.  Skip that latte and send water to people that desperately need it.  Skip that dessert and provide food or medicine. Or keep your lifestyle exactly the same and just donate a few dollars – it all adds up.  If you’re unsure which charity to give to, visit Charity Navigator, which breaks down the benefits (and costs incurred) for most major charitable organizations.

Default Folder X 4.3 Is Available!

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Default Folder X 4.3 sports Snow Leopard compatibility and a number of other enhancements and fixes.  You can get it from the Default Folder X release page.

IMPORTANT: There’s a bug in older versions of Default Folder X that can cause crashes while you’re using the hierarchical path menu if you’re running Mac OS 10.6.  Make sure to install this update before you upgrade to Snow Leopard!

And now that we’ve got that dire warning out of the way, there are a couple of geeky little additions in this release that I’m partial to:

  • You can globally set a minimum file dialog size and column width. Use these commands in terminal to set the values:

    defaults write com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX minimumSize.width 800

    defaults write com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX minimumSize.height 600

    defaults write com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX minimumSize.columnWidth 250

    Change the numbers at the end of the commands to the sizes you want to use (in pixels).

  • You can list items in hierarchical menus chronologically rather than alphabetically by holding down the Control key.

Take a look at the release page for details about all of the changes.

BikeTown Africa Spin-a-thon

Friday, March 27th, 2009

And now for something completely different…

Some of you may already know that I’m an avid mountain biker – I have almost as many bikes as I do Macintoshes (which is a little scary).  Well, the gym I belong to is sponsoring a spin-a-thon to support the BikeTown Africa Project.  On Sunday, we’ll have a gym full of people pedaling like mad on stationary bikes for four hours to raise awareness and money for BikeTown Africa.

What’s BikeTown Africa?

Founded in 2005 by the Kona Bicycle Co., the Bristol Myers-Squibb Secure the Future Foundation, and Bicycling Magazine, the BikeTown Africa Project provides new, well-built, low-maintenance Kona AfricaBikes to home health care workers in sub-Saharan Africa to facilitate the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.  Just $100 covers the cost of donating one bike, including training its user on maintenance and repair.  Using a bike, a health care worker can visit eight or more patients per day instead of one!

What can you do?

The Weight Club and Virginia Tech University Honors are holding the spin-a-thon on Sunday.  I’m participating and raising money from sponsors because I think this is a very worthwhile cause – it’s putting long-term, practical resources on the ground to help combat a huge health issue.

I’ve set up a page so you can sponsor me for the spin-a-thon here:

You can give as little as $5, or as much as you want in $5 increments by buying more than one of the ‘donations’.  I’m personally covering the payment processing cost, so your entire donation will be given to the BikeTown Africa Project.  The spin-a-thon is this Sunday, so please make your donation before noon on Sunday.

Update: Well, the spin-a-thon is over (hence the crossed out donation link) but thanks to readers here and to the dedication of a a lot of folks at the Weight Club and VT University Honors, we raised $7440 for BikeTown Africa!  Thank you!!

– Jon

Mathomatic for iPhone

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Yes, I’ve been a negligent father – I didn’t blog about Ben’s release of Mathomatic for iPhone.  It’s a very cool port of Mathomatic, an open source symbolic algebra engine that’s been around on the desktop for quite a while.  Ben’s integrated it into a very slick package, and the equation formatting and display is really top notch.

Yeah, it’s pretty geeky, but I have to say it’s also VERY cool!  Whether you’re doing homework, simplifying some equations for use in your own development work, or just want to be amazed at what you can do on an iPhone these days, it’s worth playing with – check it out!

NetSketch 1.0.1

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Yes, my son is now officially kicking his dad’s butt on the iPhone side of the business.  Ben had NetSketch ready at the launch of the app store, and even as an impartial observer (as much as I can be, anyway), it’s an impressive piece of software.

NetSketch brings collaborative drawing to the iPhone and iPod Touch.  You can draw on the iPhone’s screen in full color and share your work with others over WiFi – pretty cool!  If you collaborate with your friends, everyone’s changes are shown in the drawing in real-time.  And NetSketch is vector-based and offers infinite pan and zoom – so it’s easy to add detail to your work and you never run out of room.

Here are some drawings made with NetSketch:


I have to say it’s darn nice for $5.99, and the networking capabilities really set it apart. I can see this taking over in classrooms and meeting rooms this fall 🙂

Take a look at

Jon on MacJury

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

I had MacJury duty Tuesday on Chuck Joiner’s MacJury show, contributing to a discussion on stolen Macs and the hilarious Back to My Mac recovery of a stolen laptop. We also talked about Starbucks’ new WiFi rollout and speculated on their possible plans as a “media hub cafe”. Check out our random ramblings 🙂

MacFixit Marks Default Folder’s 20th Anniversary

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Ted Landau at MacFixit has posted a column celebrating Default Folder’s 20th anniversary.  Ted’s a long-time Default Folder fan and one of the most knowledgeable guys around when it comes to troubleshooting Macs.  It was a real honor to get to sit down with him for a virtual interview 🙂  And embarrassingly, I hadn’t actually realized that this year marks Default Folder’s 20th anniversary until Ted actually asked me when the first version shipped.  We’ve gotta plan a party and a big sale or something!

Backups: Taking the capital ‘B’ out of your Bad Day

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Well, my number came up today. The hard drive in my MacBook Pro started making this funny crackling, clicking noise. The Finder beachballed. Xcode locked up. I tried to shut down the machine gracefully. Tried to force quit everything that wouldn’t quit. No luck. Power cycled it. It booted to the blue screen, then hung there.

Funny – just two days ago I was visiting my uncle in Colorado, talking with him about statistics and probability, the Gambler’s Fallacy, and the reliability of hard drives. Now TechTool Deluxe tells me my drive has a bunch of bad blocks in the middle of what used to be my data. I guess I asked for this – bad karma.

So I’m going to lose some development time. That really, really sucks. But it doesn’t suck half as much as the prospect of losing all my source code, email, customer databases, test files, scripts, music, and geez – all my photos too. Thankfully, I’m still fairly paranoid about backing up (not as paranoid as I used to be, but still enough that I’ve got a backup in my office from last night, and an off-site backup from last week).

So look at all those files on YOUR Mac. How would you feel if they went away tomorrow? Like really. Y’know – gone, * poof *, never to return. The old adage is that it’s not a question of whether your hard drive will fail, but when. I’m happily calm about my bad day. At least it’s not a Bad Day with a capital ‘B’. Sure, it’s a maddening setback, and I’ve lost a little work – but I haven’t lost everything.

Do yourself a favor. Back up your data. And yes, I mean now. Get SuperDuper!, Time Machine or some other (lesser) backup application and use it. Sometimes it’s a nuisance, but right about now, I know it was a good idea.