Mac OSX Lion Logo

Lion, the latest operating sytem for mac from Apple.

Any one who has upgraded to Mac OS 10.7 Lion will will have had the new inverted scrolling (natural, as Apple call it) which I described in my last post.

However, while many may have found it irritating at first but chose to power through and get used to it, have got too used to it.  Now, other computers seem just wrong.

I hate it when it turns out Apple were right but it would seem that moving the page up and down rather than the scroll bar really is just, natural.

So here’s how you Linux folk can get Lion like scrolling working on your computer.  I’ve been using Ubuntu but I’m sure we’ll see it working on other distributions.

Right then, open up your terminal, let’s get going. You can click on any of these screen shots to see larger versions.

Your first command is:

xinput list

This will show you a list of devices, work out which one is your trackpad or mouse. From my screenshot, you can see that my Trackpad’s ID is 13.

Now that you know this, it’s time for your second command, incorporating the ID you have found out.

xinput test 13

Replace the 13 with whatever your device ID was.

Now scroll up a little and then scroll down a little, finally press Ctrl+C to end the test. From this you can see the mapping of your scroll function. In my screen shot you can see that my scrolling up as button 4 and scrolling down as button 5, obviously they’re not really buttons but you’re not supposed to think of that ;]

Work out what your scroll button numbers are, you’re going to need them.

Now for the actual change, the button mapping of your device will be set up as something like 1 2 3 4 5. In my case; 1, 2 and 3 are likely left, right and middle button; 4 and 5 we know for my case are the scroll, obviously they may be different for you, take note of these along with the device number you already know.

So of course all we’re needing to do is swap these round, here we go:

xinput set-button-map 13 1 2 3 5 4

Now pay attention to how that’s made up; we’ve got your device number in there (I’m 13 remember) and we’ve flipped round the numbers that we know are mapped to our scrolling, (5 and 4)… also, while I’m patronising you like this, don’t forget those spaces. Now go try it out, look, it’s working! Aren’t you clever.

You’re not done yet!

All you’ve done is make it work for now, the moment you restart your computer, it’s going to go away so let’s just make this thing permanent shall we?

Now you can set up an xorg option (Option zAxisMapping “5 4″) but I’m still in my patronising mood and thinking I should just give you the easy option so all we’re going to do is take that last command we typed in (xinput set-button-map 13 1 2 3 5 4) and make it run on startup.

So open up your System Settings and choose Startup Applications.

Now just click Add and type in the command along with a Name and description. You’re all done, you’re natural Lion like scrolling is all done. Congratulations, you may roar, raaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Mac OSX 10.7 Lion

21st July 2011

Mac OSX Lion Logo

Lion, the latest operating sytem for mac from Apple.

Yesterday Apple launched Mac OSX 10.7 Lion.  OSX is the Operating System used on Apple computers much like Windows on most PCs.  I use three computers, a PC with Windows 7, a netbook with Ubuntu Linux and a Macbook with Windows 7 and Mac OSX.  So yesterday it came time to upgrade my Macbook.

Now most operating system upgrades require a large spend of money, Windows 7, for instance, costs from £99 ($150 in the US) to buy an upgrade disk however, Apple has made the price of the upgrade to Lion a tiny spend of £21 in the UK ($29 in the US).  This is the same as their last major upgrade, Snow Leopard though before hand, like Microsoft, Apple had always charged over a hundred pounds for the upgrade.

While some would say that this shows a much fairer company than Microsoft, let’s not forget that Microsoft is primarily, a software company while Apple, makes most of their money on their hardware.  You can’t install Mac OSX on any computer that isn’t an Apple computer (you can but you need to crack it and that’s not neccesarily legal).  And let’s also not forget how much profit margin Apple makes from their machines.  Devices of higher spec than Apple can be bought a lot cheaper in terms of both computers, music players and smart phones.

It also shows that Apple are once again, not allowing small businesses to make a decent profit from their products, compared to Microsoft who allow anyone to sell computers using their software and make a fair profit in the process and even then, they donate some of their profits to charity.  But I’m not here to start a Mac vs PC debate, let’s talk Lion.

Lion has taken the final step in making sure no one other than Apple can profit from selling it by making the operating system a download only purchase.  You can’t buy a disk for this upgrade, you must open the App Store on your Mac and click to purchase.  For anyone who has been trying to avoid creating an iTunes account, I’m afraid you’re out of luck here, your App Store account is the same thing.  Once you’ve selected the purchase, your download will leap to the dock and you’ll have to wait for the 3.49GB to arrive on your hard drive.  I’m fortunate enough to have a 25Mb/s download speed so was only waiting for around 30 minutes but I expect others will find themselves leaving it overnight to download, I do not envy those on rural internet connections.  Once downloaded, the upgrade process is actually very easy and you’ll be done in around 30 minutes if your computer is much the same spec as mine, perhaps faster.

On your first load, I’m afraid that there’s no music, no fancy animation, nothing to make you feel smug about completing your upgrade.  You’re just thrown into using your computer but not without a quick intro to the big change that you’re going to have to get used to:

Inverse scrolling

Mac users have had a form of multi touch long before the multi touch trackpad appeared on the scene, we’ve been scrolling by moving two fingers up and down on the trackpad for some time, an extremely simple concept that has now been appearing on other computers as well.  Well this gestured scrolling has been turned upside down in Lion, literally.

Think about it, ordinarily when you scroll down, your page moves up.  On macs now, when you scroll down, the page moves down.  However, as mac users are so used to scrolling with touch, even on their desktop machines (using the magic mouse or magic trackpad), it made sense that pages should scroll in the same way they do on other touch devices, such as smartphones… ok I’ll say it, such as iPods, iPhones and iPads… iOS devices.

Now for many, this seems like a very strange thing to change but really it’s just a very simple change in the way you think.  Before, when you scrolled, you were pushing or pulling the scroll bar up or down.  Well now, you are simply pushing or pulling the actualy page up or down.  It took me a couple of hours to get used to but like everyone else I’ve heard talking about it, it became very natural to use and I was doing it instinctively.

Launch pad, bringing iOS to Mac

Launchpad

The scrolling is not the only new feature to simulate iOS, we now have launch pad.  By clicking an icon in the dock or using three fingers and a thumb to pinch on the trackpad, Lauchpad is opened.  This is very much the same as the homescreens on your iOS device, listing every Application in your Applications folder.  However, it does this without descrimination.  I had a screen filled with adobe uninstall applications which was a little frustrating to look at, though I could organise them into folders much like I can on my iPhone.

View all your running mac applications in one place.

Mission Control

Anyone else noticing the space age terms we’re using here?  I thought we had gone beyond all this but then perhaps this is some kind of recognition to the last space shuttle, Atlantis, which is due to make its final landing.

Mission Control seems to be replacing Exposé and spaces.  With this view, found by either clicking its icon in the dock or swiping up with three fingers, you can see all your running applications, the dash board and now, seemingly limitless desktop that can be spawned as you need them.  Just drag an application onto one of these desktops or to the far right to create a new one.  Even without Mission Control you can swipe between these desktops using three fingers left or right.

The Mac Mail app is just one that many users can use fullscreen.

Fullscreen Apps

Once again looking to mimick their iOS devices, Apple has launched a number of updates to their main programs including Mac Mail and iTunes allowing them to be used as Fullscreen apps.  The trick is to place one of these on a desktop of its own in Mission Control and leave it there as a full screen app.  This allows for a submersive and distraction free experience.

Easily roll back your corrupted files to a previous version.

Autosave and Version Control

I’ve lost track of how many of my friends complained of writing large research papers only to have the file become corrupt shortly before it was time for submission.  Now Lion provides built in version control that allows users to roll back a file if it should become corrupt or even if you just want to roll it back to a previous save.  This is nothing new, version control has been around for decades, long before GUI interfaces took over and it has been built into many linux operating systems for quite some time but now it’s available to Mac users without having to install third party software.

Is it all worth it?

For a simple twenty one quid, definitely.  Buy it and buy it now, there really is no reason to wait.  As I’ve mentioned, Apple has worked hard to make multi touch gestures an even bigger part of their system after they were first introduced in Snow Leopard.  One thing I highly recommend doing after installation is opening your System Preferences, clicking track pad and looking at all the little video demonstrations on these different gestures.  Once learnt, you’ll be using them every few minutes.

UPDATE

My friend and classmate, James Bennet, has written an article on Lion’s new security features, is it too little too late? http://james-bennet.com/?p=112

 

As with any change of web address, there comes trouble with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  If I change the web address of my site, then any search engine that has listed it will now go to the wrong web address.  I spoke about this a couple of posts ago when I moved my blog post from the old blog.andybarratt.co.uk subdomain to be on my main page at www.andybarratt.co.uk.  Well now I had another problem, WordPress Permalinks.

I’ve been running this blog since 2007, back then it wasn’t the blog of a computer scientist but just the general rants of a nearly 20 year old (note that the oldest post you’ll find is from early 2008 due to an incident that caused all blogs before then to be reduced to 10 words each).  Over time its evolved and I like to think that now, from time to time, I post something that someone spots and finds useful and perhaps even interesting to read.

As such, over the years, Google has been watching my site keenly (not really keenly, I’ve just got the opening paragraphs of a certain H.G. Wells book stuck in my head) and what does google see?  It sees lots of posts all with a web address ending like www.andybarratt.co.uk/?p=580.  As you might imagine, this isn’t very informative.  If someone puts that on a twitter feed or instant message that you read, would you open it?  Not having a clue what the link contains?

This is an aspect of wordpress called permalinks and specifically, this /?p=580 style is what wordpress uses by default.  Now if I changed this to use the name of my post as the url so you can reach me by using www.andybarratt.co.uk/changing-wordpress-permalinks-and-google and you received this in a message, would you more likely click it?  Knowing what the title of the page is before you even went to it?  Assuming you’re interesting in the title of course, I suspect you probably would.

But here lies the issue, now google has all these listings made for the old structure but I’ve changed to the new structure.  Anyone who’s ever posted a link to my blog on facebook has just had their link made useless.  Or they would if I hadn’t installed the Platinum SEO Pack, a plugin that you can install which as its top function will write the 301 page redirects for any permalink changes that you make.

This was all I wanted but Platinum SEO even goes as far as restructuring your title and adding the meta tags needed for your page too along with a whole tonne of other SEO stuff.  Don’t be fooled by the name Platinum, it’s entirely free to download.  I highly recommend it whether you’re changing your permalinks or not.

It’s times like these that I should probably write a conclusion…

TomTom Respond

14th July 2011

We were not impressed when we found this sign.

We were not impressed when we found this sign.

Remember this photo that I took? Well after receiving over a thousand hits on Flickr I received a comment posted by TomTom themselves stating that after seeing the photo, which I geotagged on Flickr to show where it was taken, they have now corrected the route along with some cheeky/light hearted advice on how people can submit changes to be made on their mapping service.

Hi Andy – we spotted your photo on FlickR, and wanted to let you know that we have corrected this on our maps, and it will be available in new map releases. Thanks for bringing it to our attention! It’s worth adding, that we always appreciate feedback from our users, and the more conventional (!) route for logging map errors is through this link: mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/index.php Come and see us on www.facebook.com/TomTom ;-)

You may also recall that I showed that Google Maps displayed the same error while Yahoo Maps did not. Well it turns out that Google receives its data from TeleAtlas, which as it would happen, is owned by TomTom. Therefore I expect the same correction that TomTom has made will appear on Google Maps thus helping not just owners of TomTom devices but also those using GPS devices that rely on Google Maps.

It’s good to know that TomTom provide a system for feedback and I’m sure I may well submit more corrections in the future.

You may have noticed a slight change to this site and for that I hate you, for this slight change was a shit load of work!

As I’ve mentioned before, this entire site has actually been two sites; the blog and the main site, they just looked identical.  To be honest, this was partly due to a sense of not wanting to part ways from having a site that was completely controlled and designed by myself.  But of course, a while ago, to make my blog fit in properly with the design of the main site I ended up create an entirely self written theme for wordpress.

Well, I got sick of having two separate sites that appeared as one and required changes done to them separately and in different ways to keep them looking the same and there really was no good reason for it, especially seeing as the blog part was the part that anyone actually looked at.

So last night I set to work copying the content from each of the pages on the main site into wordpress pages on my blog and changing the links at the top of the site to link to these new pages.  Once finished I copied all the files of the blog to the main site’s hosting space and created a duplicate of the database on this server.

After all this I killed off the old blog subdomain by removing the old database and files.  Now I discovered to my horror that all the images were killed off too.  The new copy of the blog didn’t have relative links to the images but in fact fully urls.  A quick find and replace throughout the database changed all references to the old domain name to the new one.

Now that all this was done, I had to include a 301 page redirect on the old subdomain so that all references to blog.andybarratt would permanently redirect here.  This was a must as Google is filled with links to the old version.  This was trickier than the standard redirect as I couldn’t just put a redirect to the new blog as if a url ended with something like “page321″ then I would have to make sure that the redirect would reflect that.  Luckily Apache servers have the ability to cope with this.

So it took a while but the entire site is now moved and from now on, this site will be centred on my blog.  When you go to www.andybarratt.co.uk you will land on the articles page, not a home page saying who I am.  For that, just click “About” at the top and you can read about the wonderous intellectual badass (A term we at the Dundee School of Computing have learnt to use instead of the terms Geek or Nerd) that I am.  Welcome, to the new www.andybarratt.co.uk.

Google Plus One LogoSo Google Plus has recently launched. This is basically Google’s take on Facebook, it’s designed from the foundations around the concept of privacy in a way that actually makes it part of its normal usage. No more worrying about statuses that you’d rather your parents not see.

In similar fashion to Facebook’s Like buttons, +1 is the term for Google and I have conceded into adding a +1 button to my blog’s pages, you can see it at the top along with the equivalent Facebook and Twitter buttons. But in what way have I conceded?

Well, as we’ve discussed before, I use Google Apps. This means that my domain name, andybarratt.co.uk has its MX records pointing at Google. So I have Gmail but my email address doesn’t end with gmail.com, it ends with andybarratt.co.uk. I also have my calendar and contacts on Google so by using this email address on my iPhone or on my Android phone, I have everything synced up (for free I might add, hint hint Apple).

But here’s the thing, we can easily agree that Google Apps users are among the most loyal Google customers, many of us are in fact paying for the premium services that Google offers, yet Google never includes us in their beta tests. Surely loyal customers like us should be the first people to be included, not the last. I want very much to be able to use Google Plus but I can’t get near it, even if you invite me, I can not get in.

Google promise to be bringing Apps users access soon and I suspect this is true but it’s easy to be wary. After all, Google Buzz was never offered to us in the end and the same promise was given there too.

So I have a confession to make, yes, I have added a +1 button to these pages but, I have not tested it. For all I know, it simply does not work.

XKCD comic about Google Plus

XKCD's take on Google Plus

 

This post has not yet been checked for grammer, spelling or rambling nonsense.

We were not impressed when we found this sign.

We were not impressed when we found this sign.

I have been lucky enough to be given the week off to spend time with my daughter, the first part of this little holiday though, is the road trip to go and collect her.

Now in the past, people have often said “make sure you call me when you get there” so that they know you arrive safely at a destination after a long journey. Some even go as far as wanting regular updates during your journey to know how that you haven’t died in a horrific traffic collision on route. And of course there’s the age old question, “did you find your way ok?” No longer must I endure tedious conversations, bring in the TomTom, the iPhone and my good friend, Web 2.0!

Having been a user of 4Square in the past, I have abanded it for Facebook’s own “Places.” With this, we checked our selves in at every service station we stopped at to show how far we had come. The Facebook App on my iPhone simply checked the GPS to see where I was and came up asking if I wanted to check in at the service station I was at. Within minutes, a flurry of messages come in from people wanting to know where I’m going. My facebook “friends” now all know that I’m away for the week and so not to try and find me, beautiful. Can you tell I’m not the social type yet? How interesting that I use social media as a tool to be anti-social.

Our TomTom was happily guiding us to our destination in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire when it took us off the main roads and onto some little country roads. Though happy for the scenic interlude we were not so happy when we were taken down a little dirt track and encountered the sign picture above. A quick photo was taken and uploaded to Facebook where the joys of Schadenfreude (Happiness at the misfortune of others) took over, a “love it” appeared from my brother along with a few more comments.

Google vs Yahoo Maps showing error on route.

Google vs Yahoo Maps showing error on route.

Interestingly, Google Maps agreed with our TomTom about the route however a check with Yahoo showed the dead end that the sign referred to. We added a route correction to TomTom to be uploaded to their server though I’m sure people have reported the error before and we were still sent down this route.

Finally we arrived in town and discovered that we would be waiting for an hour or two before being able to pick up the monster her self. We decided to stop in a café where we ordered pizza, with a check in at the café, people could see that we’d arrived in town safely. After waiting an while for our pizza, we realised a new problem, the waitress had no idea which tables to take food to and so was wandering around each table asking if they had ordered a margarita pizza. If anyone said yes, they got our pizza, she never came to us first. Eventually I decided to open up Google Latitude on my phone. This app shares my current location with my select friends all the time, it also lets me know them know how long I’ve been at a given location. According to Latitude, we had been in the café for a full 58 minutes when our food arrived. We ate and I left the image below on our table upon leaving.

Drawing left in Café

A little message I left after watching my pizza delivered to the wrong table at the Bellview Café.

A lot of the technologies in social media and smart phones are welcomed with a view of “would anyone actually use it?” or “what’s the point?” Well I believe all these little things add to a larger conversation, they may not be necessity but if you think about the last conversation you had with someone, consider how much of what was said was actually necessary and how short and dull the conversation would have been without them. It was Douglas Adams who noted with his character Ford Prefect that humans really do speak a lot of stuff that there is no reason that needs to be said. Our technology is adding to that conversation now, while we’re talking less with our voices, we do seem completely incapable of shutting up.