Trail Log #30: Out Sick Edition

Very little activity on the Quest this week as I was sidelined by a bug that’s been going around. This week was my turn. Other than a couple Apple updates and a Windows Home Server update later in the week I didn’t spend much time on the computer.

The big update news this week (at least for me) was the release of WordPress 2.5. I had the energy to update my test site yesterday afternoon but quickly ran out of steam. So the upgrade to this site will take place next weekend. This provides the added benefit of being able to to see the experience others have with the upgrade.

In addition to the updates I already mentioned, Apple released Apple TV 2.01. If Apple mentions this update anywhere on it’s website they hidden it well. The only change I noticed was the addition of a Genre button on the My Movies screen which is a useful addition. The update wasn’t problem free. After the update I could no longer stream anything from iTunes. It would sync fine but I could only play the synced items. Reboots and toggling the setting to enable/disable streaming did nothing. Eventually I broke the connection to iTunes and re-established it again. This erased everything from Apple TV and re-synced everything. Then streaming was fine.

That’s all for this week’s log – nice and short.

WordPress 2.5 Released

WordPress 2.5 was released a few hours ago. The timing was good since it gave me an excuse to put off some chores, so I downloaded it and updated my test site.

The update was unexpectedly smooth. I expected some plugin problems but only had one. Here’s my experience and impressions so far:

  • The one plugin problem I had was with Popularity Contest. It was listed as compatible but I had a fatal error when starting it after the upgrade. A Google search showed I wasn’t alone and someone had already resolved the problem. Thomas at Blogvaria published a solution. The problem occurs with Popularity Contest 1.3b3. The core of the fix is:

Open popularity-contest.php and scroll down to line 59. Replace require(’../../wp-blog-header.php’); with require(’../wp-blog-header.php’);

  • I use the Sandbox Theme and noticed that Sandbox 1.5.1 was released for WordPress 2.5 so I upgraded to that along with WordPress 2.5. This wasn’t so bad since I’d kept editing the theme files to a minimum and had commented those sections. I’d already updated all my plugins to current versions.
  • Prior to WordPress 2.5 there was a bug where a post would be cut off in the feed when the “More” tag was used, even if full text feeds were enabled. Since WordPress 2.5 fixes this the the Full Text Feed plugin is no longer needed.
  • My widgets were blown away by the upgrade and I had to recreate them.
  • The footer on the admin pages still says “You are using a development version (2.5).” even though I downloaded the production release. I hope (and also assume) it’s just an oversight in the code and not that an older version was packaged up.
  • I was able to use the built-in editor to compose and edit posts in Safari 3.1 (on a Mac). Earlier versions of WordPress would mess with the formatting, the most noticeable being the removal of line breaks making the post one long paragraph. I typically use Microsoft Live Writer so this isn’t a big issue for me but still a nice change.

The most visible change, and the one that’s most talked about, is the redesign of the admin Dashboard. I haven’t installed any of the beta versions so other than some screenshots it’s all new to me. My first impression is I like it. It’s different so it takes some getting used to, but it’s intuitive. The enhancements to photo editing (Galleries and smart Exif handling) along with the the redesigned compose screens may make browser based editing more attractive.

WordPress 2.5 has made enough of a good impression on me that I may decide to upgrade this site later this weekend rather than waiting until next weekend. So don’t be surprised if the site goes offline for an hour or two this weekend.

More Information:

WordPress.org – Download and information.

Release Announcement – Includes an overview of all the changes.

Screencast of the admin dashboard.

Aperture 2.1 Released by Apple

Apple has released Aperture 2.1. This time they’re more forthcoming with the release notes:

Aperture 2.1 updates various features of the application and addresses issues related to performance and overall stability. The updates include the following:

  • Dodge & Burn Plug-in. A sample plug-in is pre-installed, taking advantage of the Edit API introduced in Aperture 2.0. The plug-in adds brush-based tools for Dodge (Lighten), Burn (Darken), Contrast, Saturation, Sharpen and Blur.
  • Customize Default Adjustment Set. You can now specify which adjustments appear by default in the Adjustments Inspector/HUD.
  • Updated Crop Tool. A simplified UI makes it easier to preserve an image’s original aspect ratio, match the aspect ratio of your display, or use one of the standard preset aspect ratios.
  • Sorting in All Projects View. A contextual menu allows you to sort the All Projects view in ascending or descending date order.
  • Show on Map. A contextual menu allows you to choose the Show on Map by right-clicking (or Control-clicking) on an image that contains GPS data.
  • Access to Toolbar on Second Display. When using multiple displays in Full Screen mode, the Full Screen toolbar is now accessible on a second display.
  • “Snapshots” book theme. This additional theme includes new “photo border” frames in which to place images.
  • Flip Images. You can now flip images horizontally or vertically within Aperture.
  • Vignette. The range of gamma and exposure settings available has been expanded.
  • Save Books as JPEG or TIFF images. Automator actions have been added to Save as PDF pop-up menu in the Print Book window to automatically generate JPEG or TIFF images from book pages.
  • Update EXIF from Master. This command allows Aperture to reread EXIF from a master images after they have been imported.
  • Extended AppleScript support. The “Reveal” verb in the AppleScript dictionary has been extended to include containers such as projects and albums.

The update includes fixes that impact the a number of areas, including: Image import, Image migration, Erasing memory cards after import, Quick Preview, Batch Change, Auto-stacking, All Projects view, Tooltips, Smart Albums, Tethering, Adjustments inspector, Viewer, Loupe, White Balance, Definition, Lift & Stamp, Handling of externally edited images, Reconnecting referenced files, Keyboard customization, Deleting images, Metadata presets, Book themes, Borderless printing, Web Page/Web Journal export, Exporting versions, Export Plug-in support, and AppleScript support.

Additional information is a Apple’s Late Breaking News About Aperture 2 (pdf link).

I installed the update without a problem on my two Macs (no restart was required), but exploring Aperture will have to wait for another day.

Rob Galbraith has a good overview of Aperture 2.1 which also talks about some third-party plug-ins being developed.

Apple Releases Security Update 2008-002 V1.1

Apple released an updated copy of Security Update 2008-002. The re-release is Leopard only. Apple is typically tight lipped and don’t ay what’s changed. Others have reported that it fixes an Aperture printing problem that was introduced in the first update attempt. This makes sense with what I’ve seen. I have three Macs with Leopard but only the two with Aperture were offered the new version of the update through Apple’s Software Update.

Microsoft Live Search Not So Good When Looking for Microsoft Content

Images for this 9 year old article have been lost.

All the talk may be that Microsoft needs to buy Yahoo in order to bulk up enough compete with Google. Let’s hope they also work on basic search. When I updated my Windows Home Server I wanted to find the bulletin so I’d know what it did. I had the bulletin number from the log so I fired up IE and typed the number in the top right search box. I got four results, none a Microsoft site.

The first two results must have referenced the bulletin in the past. The pages contained multiple articles, but not about the update. The last two results were a little better. They linked to old blog pages but those pages still contained a “recent links” type link in the sidebar that brought me to a post about the patch. The site was in German, which I don’t read, but it wasn’t a Microsoft branded site. I later even tried telling Live to search just Microsoft.com and it told me no results were found.

 

So I switched to Google and repeated the same search. The fifth result is the Microsoft support page. There is one thing that’s a mixed commentary on Google – my post about the update, made 15 minutes ago is now the second result. Google is certainly quick when processing blog updates, but it didn’t weigh the Microsoft Knowledge Base article about the update very high and my new post tops it. Eight results were returned. Not all are in the screenshot below, the Microsoft support article is the last item in the screenshot.

 

Maybe I should add Yahoo to that convenient search box. Yahoo tops both Google and Live by returning the MSKB articles at the top of the results.

 

OK, this hardly makes a conclusive case to damn MS Live Search, but if they buy Yahoo I hope they keep the Yahoo search algorithm.

Windows Home Server Update KB946146

Microsoft has released an update to Windows Home Server that addresses the following problem:

• You have a computer that is running Windows Home Server.

• Windows Home Server is distributed through System Locked Preinstall (SLP). For example, you purchase a Hewlett-Packard (HP) MediaSmart Server.

In this scenario, you may randomly receive an expiration notice that prompts you to activate Windows Home Server. You receive this notice even though you do not have to activate Windows Home Server because it is distributed through SLP.

The bulletin is dated February 20, 2008 so if you have automatic updates turned on you probably received it already. If, like me, you have automatic updates off you’ll need to manually update through the WHS Console. I installed the update without a problem although a restart was required. I never had the original problem so can’t say if the fix really works.

The OS Quest Trail Log #29: Even More Updates Edition

It seems most of my time this week was spent installing even more updates. But at least it wasn’t all updates, the week started off with an Apache/PHP istallation and Apache Configuration. Now I just have to get around to setting up a website.

Apple’s Time Machine also made a comeback. I’d stopped using it just prior to the release of OS X 10.5.2 but I recently freed up an external USB hard drive so I hooked it up to my iMac and enabled Time Machine. Like before, I excluded my virtual machines. This time I also excluded my iTunes library. Due to the podcasts and videos that come and go it would eat up my Time Machine disk rather quickly, limiting the time I could go back. An old problem returned, when the external drive goes to sleep and the iMac reboots it doesn’t always see the drive again so the backups stop.

Software Updates

Apple pushed out four OS X updates over three days – Safari 3.1, a large security update, a Time Machine and Airport Driver Update, and an update to Camera RAW. The Safari 3.1 update meant I also needed a update to my 1Password software.

In addition to the updates I wrote about, I also upgraded to Vista Service Pack 1 later in the week. I upgraded Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate running on VMware Fusion and Vista Ultimate running on Parallels. The upgrades all took about 90 minutes and went without incident. In each case the download was just 66.9MB (out of a possible 427MB). I don’t use Vista enough to notice any change.

WordPress 2.5 still isn’t out yet, although a release candidate was published a couple of days ago. I’m waiting for the final release before I start testing. Rumor has it that it’ll be out next week in keeping with the original roadmap.

I’d been holding off updating the firmware on my 5th-gen iPod and was at least two firmware updates behind. I finally decided to go ahead and update it. It updated fine, although the iPod restart was unnervingly long. No noticeable differences, which at this point is a good thing.

Frustrations

There were  few this week but I’ve been having problems with sound on Windows Vista running on VMware. It works, but sounds like a AM radio with a lot of static. Unfortunately after switching the driver from stereo to mono the VMWare Fusion would pin both CPU cores at 100%. This required a force quit of VMware and then an iMac reboot to kill all the orphaned VMware processes.

My Apple TV has become another source of frustration. Its minor, but really annoying. There’s a noticeable delay in the menus when it loads the preview image. This causes dropped clicks and missed menu choices. I rather do without the previews and save the clicks.

The Week Ahead

That rounds up this week. I’m pretty close to finishing my Ubuntu Server build and WordPress 2.5 will probably be released within a few days. Logically it would make sense for me to finish the server build then use it as the test platform for WordPress 2.5. But the reality is if WP is released soon I’ll probably update my current test site and take a look at it. It still remains to be seen what will catch my attention in the week ahead.

Apple Updates Camera Raw & Security

Apple released it’s fourth OS X update in three days, this one updates Camera RAW with new camera support and a security patch. The Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update is available through software update or as a standalone download. Support for the following cameras has been added:

  • Hasselblad CFV-16
  • Hasselblad H3D-31
  • Hasselblad H3D-31II
  • Leaf Aptus 54S
  • Leaf Aptus 65S
  • Nikon D60
  • Olympus E-3
  • Pentax *ist DL2
  • Pentax *ist DS2
  • Pentax K100D Super
  • Sony DSLR-A200
  • Sony DSLR-A350

The update also plugs a security vulnerability in Adobe Image Negative (DNG) files.

I installed the update on OS X 10.5.2 Intel Macs without a problem. Aperture 2 and iPhoto displayed my existing RAW files just fine, I don’t have the newly supported cameras and I don’t use DNG files.

Time Machine & Airport Driver Update

Apple continued the updates and released a Time Machine & Airport Driver Update that’s described as:

…includes compatibility improvements for using Time Machine with Time Capsule, as well as AirPort driver fixes.

The update requires a reboot and is available through software update or as a direct download.

I didn’t have any problem updating my MacBook but I did have a bit of a problem on the iMac. Both were running OS X 10.5.2 and had all the same patches. My iMac didn’t properly shutdown after the update and I had to power it off. It seemed fine after the restart. The hanging shutdown isn’t a common problem but this wasn’t the first occurrence so it may be unrelated to the update.

I haven’t tried it myself, but others are reporting that Time Machine now works with USB drives attached to Airport Base Stations.

Not the first time for this rant so I’ll keep it short. Apple’s last three updates required a reboot. Couldn’t they have been released on the same day to minimize the interruption?

Apple OS X Security Update 2008-002

Apple released security update 2008-002 for all versions of OS X. It’s available through software update or as a direct download. The list of fixes is extensive and others who have counted them say they number over 40, I’ll take their word for it.

I installed the update yesterday without a problem on my to Intel Macs running Leopard. A restart is required. I haven’t encountered any problems but with the wide range of fixes there’s probably pieces I haven’t touched yet. There’s three different versions of the update: Leopard, PPC and Universal. There’s three more patches for the same three flavors of OS X server.