Tuesday, May 25, 2010

AppleCare Protection Plan for an out of warranty Mac

Man, Apple is awesome. I purchased an Apple Care Protection Plan last February, days before my computer was out of its 1 year warranty. I thought I had months to register it and promptly forgot about it while school kicked my ass until May. When I tried to register it on the web I realized I was totally hosed, so I tried to call Apple to return the unused protection plan.

To my surprise, after being redirected three times around the various Apple associates I finally got a representative that wasn't interested in refunding my money, but in figuring out if I could actually use the plan to cover my out of warranty Macbook Pro. He sat patiently while I sifted through email receipts from Apple until I found an order number showing I bought my plan while my lappy was still under warranty.

Long story short, he was able to cover my out of warranty Mac because I bought the plan before the warranty expired. Good to know, yeah?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Perl on Snow Leopard

I just spent the past few hours messing with perl libraries and system libraries just so I could install and utilize the perl GD package to draw line graphs for a bioinformatics assignment (GD::Graph::lines specifically). For anyone that stumbles upon this page thinking that upgrading to Snow Leopard munged your pristine and not frequently used but for that one class all that time ago perl installation, here’s what I did:

Zlib barfed out this error message

Deep recursion on subroutine "Compress::Raw::Zlib::AUTOLOAD"

so I found this article that suggested I clear out all Compress::Zlib files and reinstall. Once I did that I reinstalled GD and Zlib from source by navigating to the directory of the unzipped source and issuing

make install (you may need to add sudo)

Once I got those installed from the perl CPAN shell issuing install GD worked as expected. Hoo-rah.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

GumboLabs, or How I Should Learn To Stop Worrying And Always Charge My Cellphone

I’ve been having hardware problems a lot lately. My car door has been janked since a friend of mine forgot how to put a VW stick shift in reverse and the door bent back on itself, consequently rainwater just pours into the rear drivers side floorboard.

Then my phone fell in the puddle in the floorboard. It still works, but the backlight doesn’t work and it doesn’t tell the right time. I don’t know how the fuck a cellphone that can make and receive calls can’t tell the right time; I’m just a dumb programmer. Lastly, my year old Macbook Pro has a battery that dies at 70% reported charge, so its pretty much gotta be plugged in at all times. I bring all this up because the latter two were a direct impediment to going to an event I really wanted to attend tonight, RubyBayou’s “Holy Shit Rails 3 Is Going To Be Fucking Awesome” talk. At least I think that’s what it was called.

I’ve never been to GumboLabs, so I didn’t know about the doorbell (the phone number they have posted on the door). I left my phone at home today and it lost its charge. I brought it with me just in case after I got home from my calculus class at 7:30. When I arrived very late with the meeting quite possibly over and I saw the sign I did what any good geek would do, looked for free wireless (thanks 48somethingangela for not encrypting your wireless!) and used their very nice patio furniture and started Google Voice texting the “doorbell“ and a friend that I thought was there. When that failed I tweeted RubyBayou and someone who was listed as a NOLARubyist with tweets that indicated they were probably there. Waiting for replies I read the release notes for Rails 3 again (yeah decoupling!) and tried to charge my phone. Until my computer died. With 70% charge.

You guys have what seems to be a neat and unconventional space going on (at least from the outside!) and I’m pissed at myself for missing the meeting, if it in fact still happened. I hope you guys had a good time, and I’ll even try and RSVP for the next meeting!

Side Note: I’m a husband, a full time programmer and a student, in that order (if only I could reverse the order of the last two), and this was simply a little vent at my recent hardware fails and my too busy schedule. I think New Orleans needs a strong Ruby community and I appreciate what GumboLabs and RubyBayou is doing.

If I didn’t have Bioinformatics homework on Hidden Markov Models due next week I’d be having late night hack seshes till the cows come home since I won’t be able to bring the new hotness to the Rails project that’s winding down at my job. Arel looks like the way Active Record’s query API should have worked from the beginning. Holy cow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The App Store and the Mobile Web

I read an article today about the Google Voice mobile app and how awesome it is. I can’t disagree, its made me embrace the cloud a few years too late for someone as nerdy as me.

I finally decided on a phone number for Google Voice.

I exported my Address Book contacts specifically for Google Voice, then used the new feature in Snow Leopard to sync with Google regularly.

I even tried using Lala for music without cluttering my work laptop until Apple bought them.

That article really got me riled up though. So much so I resurrected the blog to talk about it. The article, and this one right here, “Will the Mobile Web Kill Off the App Store?”, are both so ignorant of the recent present that I wonder if these ‘journalists’ even pay attention to the articles in their RSS feed they feel obligated to blog about every once in a while.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love webapps. I work on one every single day. They are the definition of portability and they have been ever since Paul Graham invented the Arc programming language to make arguably the first webapp, an e-commerce platform that was eventually purchased by Yahoo. I’m digging the cloud, welcoming our new internet overlords, Google, into more and more aspects of my life. I love the Steam store, never having to save CD keys or even physical discs, keep the proof of purchase on the cloud. Thanks bro. Servers that host your shit for you are just better. People get paid to make those datacenters redundant as fuck. Barring Google or Steam going out of business, I should be fine (Privacy concerns and perfectly rational worries about them outright jacking stuff you legitimately purchased aren’t the point, resistance is futile). Ever since people started using fucking hotmail people stopped worrying about aol dot com or cox dot net accounts and downloading mails and outlook express, this has been a long time coming. But people didn’t seem to want web apps on the iPhone all those years ago when it first dropped.

I bought an iPhone back when they had no apps, had an aluminum back (which I still like better, dings and scratches be damned), no 3g, a shittily designed headphone jack that required special headphone jacks or an adapter, AND cost three times the current incarnation. WITH A CONTRACT. Way back in those dinosaur times, just the touchscreen was enough to make everyone go apeshit. Once the awe faded people started asking the inevitable, “This is a computer, right? Where are the 3rd party apps?” In response, Apple released a 60 page document entitled iPhone Human Interface Guidelines for Web Applications, a starting point for developers that wanted to make webapps that looked native enough and behaved the way you would expect quality Mac software to behave, albeit slow as fuck on Edge. This wasn’t good enough for developers anxious to hack on the NEXT BIG THING and it certainly wasn’t good enough for the tech journalists, most of which couldn’t tell you which end of a try-catch statement to hold. The hackers cried foul and began hanging out in seedy IRC channels and plotting their altruistic and warranty-voiding jailbreaks while the tech hangers-on cheered them on from the sidelines. They were sticking it to the MAN, man.

I don’t know if Apple had plans to release an SDK all along and they were goaded into doing it earlier than they planned. It certainly seems plausible, they announced the SDK well before it came out as if to sate the spuming masses. Who knows. Point is, the mobile web was simply not good enough for most of the fanatics, and more than a few of the great unwashed that just wanted to make fun of Apple’s idiotic foray into a BlackBerry and Palm dominated smartphone space.

I can see the original indignation, the network wasn’t fast and I’m sure people didn’t realize just how much you could do with a webapp and the right mobile stylesheet. HTML5 may have not been production ready back then. I’m sure the idea of the mobile web still carried with it the unflattering idea of the BlackBerry web. I can especially understand how eager hackers would take umbrage that the company that they love wouldn’t let them toy with their new device, despite the added cred and thrill they would get from hacking it anyway. What bothers me are the tech journos.

Here we are, two and one half years from the debut of the original iPhone, two incarnations in, a BILLION apps sold on the app store, more ways to talk like T-Pain and make fart noises than the average consumer knows what to do with. Just a few months ago I read praise for the App Store and desires to see it for all mobile devices, and even desktop/laptop apps. Now that the narrative of Apple v. Google, cage match fight to the death, has permeated the tech blogger’s consciousness though, Google is seen as doing an end-around (WHODAT) on Apple by releasing Google Voice as a webapp. With Javascript and HTML5 it makes the case for webapps once again, and a damn good one at that. Its taken just two and a half years for people to realize that minus the 3g, we could probably have had the mobile web all along. HTML5 has been in development for 6 years under the name Web Application 1.0. But now that the Google Voice app was rejected by Apple, and there has been a schism between the two giants, it paints an exciting narrative for all the hangers-on when Google releases a competent web app for the iPhone. All of a sudden portability comes back into the lexicon, run it on your Droid, your Creepy Blue Eyed Lady Palm Pre, your toaster. These tech journos are all indecisive blowhards that couldn’t even write a “Hello World!” app if I gave them the first three lines.

It took 50 years to run the gamut from assembly on mainframes, to ‘portable’ apps written in C, to ‘true portability’ with the Java Virtual Machine, to webapps. Apple wanted to start with webapps, and the tech journos goaded them into playing through the cycle again in fucking high speed. Good job guys. Maybe next you could enlighten us on the merits of papyrus or stone tablets?

“If I asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.” - Henry Ford