Thursday, January 06, 2005

Nvu: open-source web publishing

From the same open-source team that brought us Firefox and Thunderbird, there is now an open-source alternative to GoLive, DreamWeaver, and the like: Nvu (pronounce: "in view"). It's at version 0.7 right now and therefore not exactly bug-free, but even so it's an impressive piece of work. And you cannot argue with the price :-)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Utility of the week: ClipboardSharing

[Hat tip: MacWorld weblog.] ClipboardSharing is a neat tool that allows sharing the clipboard between two users on the same computer, or between computers in the same RendezVous area. Neat for quickly passing back and forth snippets of text, URLs,.... between coworkers.

In addition, it allows you to use more than one clipboard on your own account. If you have two computers on your desk or you often thrash out text/programs together with a coworker, you may wonder how you ever lived without this program!

Graphing Calculator

A Mac OS X beta of Graphing Calculator is available here. (The story behind this product, which was coded by unemployed programmers who sneaked into Apple Computer's Cupertino offices after hours, is a must-read.)

Windows self-extracting (.exe) archives

MacOSXhints explains how to open a Windows self-extracting Zip archive on a Macintosh:

Sometimes you encounter a file on the Net which is compressed as a self-extracting zip-file for Windows only. Its file extension is ".exe". But you HAVE to have its contents, and you just can't open that .exe file! For instance, a PDF manual from Canon's site -- they tell you to open it with Acrobat, but they made it an exe, saving just 0.2 MB.

Well, there is a "dirty" way to open it. Just rename the file extension to ".zip" (and confirm the dialog), and open it with Stuffit Expander. It doesn't work with Panther's built-in zip-extractor (BOMArchiveHelper) -- so don't double-click the file, but choose "Open with > Stuffit Expander" from the contextual menu (control-click on the file). I tested this with Stuffit Expander 7.0.3, but my guess is that you can use almost any version...

You can also use the command-line utility unzip in Terminal -- in that case, you don't even have to rename the file. A simple unzip thisfile.exe is enough to get things going.

Macs and disks-on-key

A couple of people told me about problems transferring files between two Macs using a disk-on-key. It being a longtime article of faith of mine that only Microsoft would be capable of making a computer incompatible with itself, I checked this out myself. It turns out to be a pre-OS X relic.

In Apple's file systems (HFS and HFS+), files can have both a "data fork" and a "resource fork". The data fork speaks for itself: the resource fork could hold virtually any number of "resources", each with its own type (ie., icon, PICT, CODE, menu,...). Non-Mac-centric file systems such as FAT32 and ufs don't know the first thing about resource forks, so only the data fork gets preserved upon copying a file to them.

This is no problem for multiplatform file formats such as Micros**t Word, Excel, Powerpoint, GIF, JPEG, PDF,... --- these formats do not have resource forks so they can be copied over as is. However, the Mac-centric file formats of some older Mac-only applications (e.g., Nisus or Kaleidagraph) almost invariably exploited the capabilities of the resource fork.

The answer for such files is: make an archive of them (using DropStuff or the "Make Archive" command in the Finder), copy the resulting .sit or .zip archive via the disk-on-key, and then unpack the archive.