Hello!  We’ve moved to the right a little…

The blog used to be at but because I got fed up with the design and upkeep, WordPress will now be powering the main site.  Hopefully I’ve done everything right…There has already been a couple of hairy points, I’ve learnt that my backup script is broken, for example…

Has the transition to Intel gone "seamlessly"?

At WWDC 2006, Steve Jobs said the following about porting OS X to the Intel architecture > “Porting an operating system to an entirely different processor architecture is no easy task and our software team did a magnificent job of taking this on the PowerPC and turning it into this on Intel architecture.  So they made it look really easy and it’s gone seamlessly which has enabled this amazing transition to occur in 210 days, but under the hood and you all know, this was 86,000,000 lines of source code that was ported to run on an entirely different  architecture with zero hiccups.” But has the transition really gone that well?  I suppose at the time it had, but almost six years on what can be said?  Let’s take a quick look at the history of OS X on Intel.

At WWDC 2005 Jobs told us that each release of OS X had been compiled for the Intel architecture, he even had an iMac running Tiger on an Intel Pentium 4.

Tiger became publicly available for Intel Macs in January 2006 with the release of the MacBook Pro and the first Intel iMacs. Tiger on the PowerPC (PPC) supported the Classic environment, which ran apps designed for OS 9 and also included the Motorola 68K emulator.  So Tiger on PPC supported apps which were ages old. On Intel, Tiger supported Rosetta, a translator allowing PPC apps to run on Intel Macs. Tiger supported PPC Macs from the G3 to the G5, machines that were around 7 years old as of 2006.

Leopard supported G4 and G5 Macs (above 867MHz) and Intel Macs.  Leopard lost support for the Classic environment on PPC apps, losing support for a plethora of apps created over a number of years.

Snow Leopard stopped support for the PowerPC but still had Rosetta built in, most PPC apps still worked, though a few had some oddities.

In 2011 Apple released Lion.  Lion dropped support for 32-bit Intel Macs and no longer included Rosetta.  All of the PPC apps that hadn’t been ported to Intel were lost.

Any app whose developer has abandoned it on some download site may well never run again…

So, while I am sitting here now on my 2011 iMac running the latest developer build of Mountain Lion, I can say that I am still running OS X.  Many of the OS X features still exist.  Apps classically available to OS X can also be run.  But what about other apps, such as Adobe Freehand, have been left in the cold, not being able to be run on modern Macs.

Apple have been ruthless in the past;  stripping away the original Mac OS code base for one based on NeXTSTEP, swapping the floppy drive for a CD/DVD writer, getting rid of the optical drive altogether. But all through these changes they have kept the ability to run old software, tools that people use everyday.  With the transition to Intel, Apple threw away so much, and what they kept seems to have been too much to maintain.

Out with the old and in with the new.  It doesn’t really affect me, I occasionally come across a PowerPC only app, but nothing show stopping.  It does go to show how ruthless Apple can be, with everything, even software.

Bootnote: This is an old post that I’ve tidied up a bit, the thread was somewhat lost in the time between when I first thought of it and now.

WWDC 2012

Late as always, Apple’s 23rd WWDC kicked off almost a month ago after selling out in just 1h43m!  This years event kicked off with Siri warming up the crown and GarageBand on an iPad  playing a sting after each joke. Apple touted some interesting facts about the App Store

 MacBook Air

Keeping the same design as the last generation, the new Air gets updated CPU, RAM and graphics, better IO to the SSD, and USB 3.

[table id=2 /]

It should be noted that whereas some manufactures are installing separate USB2 and USB3 ports, Apple has integrated the two into one physical port.

MacBook Pro

****The ‘Pro has similar updates as the Air.

[table id=3 /]

The New MacBook Pro

The New MacBook Pro shows us the direction that Apple are going to take with its products.  It’s just as much about what is has as what it hasn’t… Dubbed The MacBook Pro with Retina Display, this beauty has a 2880x1800 display, at normal viewing distances the naked eye cannot distinguish one pixel from another.

This ‘Pro doesn’t have an optical drive, or a spinning hard drive.  It has soldered RAM modules.  There isn’t a FireWire or Ethernet port… Its biggest asset is the Retina display, but it also boasts a new thinner design, just a little thicker than the Air.  It has a newly designed thermal system too, bringing air through gills in the side of the laptop using asymmetrical finned fans to reduce perceived noise levels.

The Retina display packs a whopping 5,184,000 pixels onto the 15.4” screen.  It has more pixels than an HD TV.  There are so many pixels that the preview window in Final Cut Pro displays HD video!

[table id=4 /]

OS X Mountain Lion

Apple also announced Mountain Lion, the eighth major release of OS X.  The company was quick to note that in nine months 40% of OS X users are currently running OS X Lion, Windows 7 has achieved the same percentage in 26 months.  They also announced 66m OS X users, triple that of five years ago!

Mountain Lion is packed with over 200 new features of which Apple demoed eight.

iOS 6

Apple’s last announcement was iOS 6.  iOS is currently running on over 365m devices, and 80% of those devices are running the latest release (iOS 5).  Apple took a jibe at Android where is noted that only around 7% of its install base is running the latest version.  Apple also gave us a quick insight into some push notification stats, on average Apple pushes 7b notifications a day! And by WWDC had pushed over 1.5 trillion notifications to iOS devices!

Packed with over 200 new features, Apple demoed just a few.

And many APIs for developers to get their hands on. iOS 6 will be available on the iPhone 3GS and higher, the iPad 2 and higher, and the fourth generation iPod Touch.

That summed up WWDC 2012.  Time Cook came to the stage to wish everyone a great week and closed the keynote.

Receive iMessages on multiple devices

If you have an iPhone and an iPad or a Mac running you may have noticed that messages don’t seem to appear across devices, or that you have multiple conversations for someone.

Think of email, you have one email address (e.g. and if someone emails that address, you can receive the email on multiple devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, and Mac) so long as you’ve registered that email address with the device. iMessages are the same.  You can add email addresses to iMessages and when someone sends an iMessage to that email address, you’ll see it on every device it’s registered to.

Setting this up is really easy:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap Messages
  3. Scroll down and tap Receive At
  4. Tap Add Another Email
  5. Type new email address
  6. Verify the email address
  7. Off you go! Once you have verified the address you can send and receive iMessages form and to the email address and the phone number!

Adding Emoji (smilies) to the iPhone

Adding colourful emoticons (or smilies) to texts, emails, and messages can help to liven things up a bit.  Unfortunately the Emoji keyboard isn’t accessible by default, but this post will show you how to enable it!

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Scroll down to Keyboard
  4. Inside Keyboard you will find the International Keyboards menu, where you can add more keyboards
  5. Tap Add New Keyboard
  6. Scroll down and tap on Emoji (the list is alphabetical)
  7. Close Settings and open Notes
  8. Create a new note
  9. Tap the ‘world’ key, between the 123 key and the space bar
  10. Enjoy the plethora of emoticons! There are five categories of emoticons, each having three to seven pages of emoji goodness!


Back in 2010 I complete my dissertation.  The idea for my diss came to me while sitting in Starbucks in Camberley sometime during my time at Sun Microsystems, probably early 2009.  The idea was quickly jotted on the back of a Starbucks serviette.

Applications crash and can take down a system, if we could virtualise the application and separate it from the system then it couldn’t bring it down.  This was the subject of my diss and I mostly implemented it using OpenSolaris Zones.

The idea was more than that though, I thought that files should also be chopped up and placed into separate areas (at the time I was thinking separate ZFS file systems).  Separating files into types would mean that one could limit what information applications could get hold of (why would an image editor need access to word documents, for example?). Here’s an image to somewhat illustrate my point:

Now, back in 2010 I used the phrase “Virtual Application Environments”.  Today I feel quite silly, as everyone simply calls it “sandboxing”, Wikipedia has this to say about sandboxing: > a sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs. My diss somewhat successfully implemented sandboxed applications, but these apps had access to the whole of the current users home directory, so obviously didn’t implement the second part of the idea…

What is interesting is that this is sort of how the iPhone works, in so much as there are documents, photos, movies, music, and the user only really sees these through specific apps - so the Photo app doesn’t view documents, and the iTunes app doesn’t view photos, etc…And now a similar thing is happening on the Mac with the Mac App Store.

A short while after I had this idea in Starbucks, I began to think about how users could use a thin client (like a Sun Ray) and access sandboxed apps, running inside virtualised machines, running a variety of operating systems, all being able to access segregated file systems for different file types.

Let’s have a think about that.  A thin client connects to a main server, this server can then connect to other systems (virtual or otherwise) and run apps from those systems.  Apps on the remote systems are sandboxed for security and stability.  All the while the user thinks that they are using a regular computer.

Now I’m very excited!  OnLive have released a product called OnLive Desktop.  It allows you to access a MS Windows 7 instance from a tablet, right over the web.  So we begin to see this thin client (iPad) access a remote system (Win 7) to run apps.  All we need now is for the Win 7 instance to be able to run a multitude of Linux and OS X apps (by somehow forwarding the app from the Linux/Mac system to the Windows system (something like X11 forwarding)) and my idea would have become a reality!

Just an update

Once upon a time I had the notion that I would post something vaguely interesting or helpful once a month.  While working at Sun that was easy (also making myself blog about my weekly activities for later reference helped), even my final year of uni I pretty much managed it, but I now look back over the last few months and see that I’ve not posted anything really since early December, and before that sometime in October.  

I am still alive!  Still working on the ERTMS project in Machynlleth which is going well and with each new software update the system is getting more and more stable.

Outside of work I am working on some bits in the virtual world of Second Life, a good friend of mine creates objects and I have started writing scripts in the Linden Scripting Language to make his objects more interesting/interactive.

OH!  I’ve got a new iMac!  A sexy 27” beast, equipped with a 3.4GHz Intel i7, 16GB RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 6970M (2GB).  It replaces my three year old Mac Pro which I wasn’t using to its full potential - so if anyone wants a 2009 Mac Pro (2x Intel Xeon 5500, 6GB RAM) let me know!

Right, now I’ve got to work on something interesting for me next post!

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to wish you all a very Merry Christmas

WebOS 'more open' than Android?

Saturday, 10 Dec 2011 23:52:18 · 1 minute read · Comments
Android / WebOS / RMS / freedom / open · Musings / Android / Mobile

Ars Technica recently published HP’s decision means webOS could end up more open than Android.

The fate of WebOS has had people pondering since HP announced it was going to stop developing WebOS.  It has been suggested that HP should open source WebOS rather than just killing it.  It turns out that that is exactly what they are going to do.

Now this raises an interesting question, could WebOS be more open than Android?  Many of us know that you can download most of the Android source, and that you can build Android and put it on your phone, but it’s not a community driven project, indeed it seems to somewhat shun the community. I seem to recall that when Richard Stallman came to Aberystwyth University, he said something like “Android is not open, but it’s the best we’ve got right now”.

I know a number of people who have rejected the iPhone and the Apple culture because it is extremely closed.  These people have promoted Android as the open alternative. My question to these people who wanted the open option: When HP opens up WebOS, will you all be jumping ship to the truly open source mobile OS?

Do I really agree with Apple's EULAs?

Sunday, 30 Oct 2011 15:38:27 · 1 minute read · Comments · Apple / Musings

After the death of Steve Jobs Richard Stallman has said some somewhat callous things about Jobs and Apple and how they have us in “digital handcuffs”.

When we purchase a piece of Apple hardware or software, we must accept a EULA before we use it.  It’s pretty standard in the proprietary world to put measures in place to restrict a user’s use of the product. I am pretty confident that hundreds of users click “accept” every day without reading such a license , let alone understanding it.

I have fallen in to this trap too, what “freedoms” am I signing away to Apple?  Over the next few weeks I’m going to sit down and read the EULA for Mac OS X Lion, iTunes, and iOS 5.  Am I really happy with signing these “freedoms” away?