Attack of the Mac Clones

by Terry 4/15/2008 4:42:00 PM

Defiant Psystar back selling Leopard computers
As you might recall, Psystar's Web site was overwhelmed Monday after it was found to be selling cheap computers with Mac OS X Leopard preinstalled. This caused quite the commotion, as Apple does not license its operating system to other hardware makers, and specifically prohibits (PDF) end users from installing Mac OS X on anything other than an "Apple labeled" computer.

Time is always a crunch, I wish I had more time to research this. Psystar is, in fact, making headlines selling full-on Mac clones. This is interesting. It reminds me of the Franklin clones from the 1980’s. I wonder how this will turn out. I am inclined to say that Apple may be more in the right. Apple has no obligation to sell their software for use on anyone’s hardware but their own. Some pundits are claiming that breach of contract of the End User License Agreement is the weekest of legal bindings. I do not claim to know law in any way. I would still bet that Apple's money is a pretty big stick non-the-less.

The legal issue is more interesting than the clone-machine sales. If I already own OS X, and my Apple hardware burned in a freak accident, is it truly illegal for me to reconstruct new hardware from third-party vendors to install the operating system on?

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Mac Clones and other random notes

by Terry 4/14/2008 6:59:00 PM

Psystar sells a $399 Mac clone
"Why spend $1999 to get the least expensive Apple computer with a decent video card when you can pay less than a fourth of that for an equivalent sleek and small form-factor desktop with the same hardware,” says a note on the company Web site.
...
"There may be another problem for Psystar on the horizon. Apple’s end user license agreement states that 'You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so.'"

Which I find interesting. Psystar is not offering anything but hardware that is functionally identical with what Apple offers. That is not a violation of any software license in itself. If I attempt to install OS X on non-Apple hardware, then I am technically in violation of the Apple agreement, but owning the hardware is no problem.


Karen and I spent most of the weekend preparing Karen's mother's home for sale. Karen helped clean and I moved boxes, packed loads into storage and played with attending children. We should hear if we need to paint and otherwise stage the home next weekend. The sort of it is, I did not work on our house this weekend, nor did I work on the martial arts lesson plans I need to complete. I will start that tonight and throughout the week.


I am working on a one-off data feed for a project at work. I am posting data for an outside vendor on a monthly cycle. I choose to use the SQLXML extension for IIS. This pulls and supplies the data from a data warehouse with a SQLXML template. This is useful because the template can incorporate additional data about the feed, like when it was generated as well as format the output.

I am writing a C#, .Net 2.0, application that will run as a scheduled task to periodically generate the data to a static file system, create an historical archive and manage directory cleanup and error notification. The static XML files can be opened in Excel as is. I am providing an Excel document that automatically opens the current file and formats the data. I will post the framework for all this in a static page on my site when it is complete. Rather simple, but elegant in some ways.

The SQLXML template looks something like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<DataFeed xmlns:sql='urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-sql'>
  <FeedProperties>
   <PublicationDateUTC>
     <sql:query>SELECT convert(varchar(22), GetUTCDate(), 126)</sql:query>
  
</PublicationDateUTC>
   <ArchiveDateName>
    
<sql:query>SELECT convert(varchar(22), GetUTCDate(), 112) + '.xml'</sql:query>
  
</ArchiveDateName>
  </FeedProperties>
  <sql:query >
    SELECT *
    FROM MANAGERS
    FOR XML AUTO
  </sql:query>
</DataFeed>

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Off to clean house with a bribe

by Terry 4/12/2008 7:45:00 AM

My daughter is still sick, but is mildy active. Karen and I are bundling her up and going to grandma's house to help clean. She is putting the house on the market and hoping to move into a new home. My daughter is not happy about going. It required bribery. The key to bribery is to offer things you would already be willing to give away. I happen to want a poke'mon set, as I am actually interested in playing the game. So, bribery is working in my favor today.

 

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BlogEngine.NET control modified

by Terry 4/11/2008 11:01:00 AM

I managed to modify the PostList control the way I like so that chronological posts have an anchor link at the top of the page to the specific post on the home page. I currently call my version of the control PostListChron. I also, finally, have my site and content under source control. I have more to do, like new scheduled backups for my web site. I at least have the ability to create delta comparisons of the changes I make to BlogEngine code, which will make posting changes here easier.

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Car serviced on a busy day

by Terry 4/11/2008 8:30:00 AM

My car maintenance finished in the early afternoon. So I walked the two miles from my office to the dealer to retrieve my car, which, happily, purrs nicely again. I then quickly drove home, changed and took my daughter to her Tae Kwon Do class. After her class I had enough time to take her back home; then go back to my classes; one I am a student in, the other I teach; then home by 8:30 PM. An hour after that I noticed my daughter was acting odd and looking miserable. Checking her temperature, I would guess she has the Flu. Putting her to bed was trying, but she fell fast asleep in minutes. It all made for a long day.

This morning is filled with meetings. My team follows the Macroscope methodology. I have the role of Technical Architect in the team. I enjoy this position because I do not have to get directly involved in the company politics, except where I am needed to implement, validate or integrate technical options, and I get to actively write and design software. I never write as much code as I want, but I keep my skills alive.

Karen is looking after our daughter this morning. It sounds like my daughter just woke up and is a bit gravelly and grumpy. I can hear her in the other end of the house, but I won’t be able to see her unless she pokes her head into the office.

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Waiting for shuttle

by Terry 4/10/2008 7:14:00 AM
I am in the waiting area at the car dealer waiting for a shuttle to take me to the office. I mostly work from home, so going into the office is not the normal activity for me. I hate paying for the car service. The two combine is agony at times. At least there is internet access and I can get the news, check my work email and collect my thoughts. I reluctantly have to admit that having the dealer work on my car is about a wash on costs. I have to consider my time, convenience, the drop-off shuttle and such. As a youth and young adult I would have done the work my self, but this is not cost effective with modern cars and my time value. It is still agonizing.

The Olympic Torch has become the symbol of protest. I am somewhat saddened by this. I am just old enough to recall the emotions about the '72 Olympics in Munich, but for most of my life the Olympics have been more about sport and I had ignored the politics. It has always been a political event, I realize. Still, the torch, athletes and the competition to me are the sacred elements. Protest and complain about anything else, but leave the spirit of the games un bothered. Of course, the '84 Olympics missed a whole group of athletes.

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Chronological posting and coding practices

by Terry 4/9/2008 8:35:00 AM

I managed to re-figure how to get my posts to display in chronological order. I butchered the PostList control in the 'User Controls' into a new control. This is simple enough, really. Changing the loop to reverse the posts in the paged list of posts seemed to work. I will post the new control once I test it out enough.

Naturally, I am working in the worst possible way to write code. I have no source control for my code, I have no backup scheduled, I have no plan or documentation on what I plan to do and I am basically hacking at the code. I know better, and will remedy all that soon.

Source control is vital, even if there is only one developer working on code. It is the recovery, version history and comparison tool that will save hours of work. I have many stories, good and bad, on the benefits of source control. One development team which works in a related area at my office does not use a formal source control system. In three years they have only had one issue – that I know of – which required going to tape backup to recover lost files. That is one event too many. It took two or three days to get the files recovered and not all the lost work had been backed up. A source control database would have prevented that entirely.

The company project I am currently working on is a fairly good example of development best-practices realized. The development team, five years ago, was largely SEI/CMMI level 1. In a preliminary audit conducted yesterday, the development and project teams are sitting at level 3 or maybe 4. I created new change request during the audit to address minor issues to get us to the next level.

The point is, for those who are struggling with SEI/CMMI, is it is not about writing documentation, it is about following processes that reinforce best-practices; most of which all developers already know are the right thing to do.

So, to that end, I need to get my personal projects in order. I know it is the right thing to do and experience has shown me that it pays off well.

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BlogEngine default sorting on home page

by Terry 4/8/2008 4:22:00 PM

I can see that I need to fix the sorting on my implementation of BlogEngine.NET. I like to have the newest entries at the bottom of the page so that posts read from top to bottom; kind of like English in its typically written form. This will annoy me until I fix it.

When I first downloaded BlogEngine.NET that was the first change I looked at making. Now I need to implement it. I wanted to take the time to learn the BlogEngine.NET structure and community before I hacked in my own changes. Maybe there are other BlogEngine users who want their posts to be in chronological order?

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Adding content and pages

by Terry 4/8/2008 3:52:00 PM

I am slowly starting to add content to my site again. I have years of data from my original site to republish. That will take time to get on with. For now I am adding a page on Global Climate Change, which will have to do for new content for now.

This morning, while sitting at my desk I looked out the window and was mildly surprised to see there was snow mixed with rain. I commented to my wife that it must be due to global warming. Karen's reply was that I was too critical of the global warming people. Okay, that may be true at times. However, it is the second week of April and there was snow in the air. Last year we had a snowfall on April first, which stuck for about a day. This year we had snow that stuck for a day on March 31. I live in Snoqualmie, Washington. Not exactly the Great White North. Note, I am not surprised that it did snow, as I know that it can snow it this region at this time of year, but I was kind of surprised it was cold enough outside that snow-mixed-with-rain was possible mid-morning on a partly-cloudy day.

So, Karen's comment to me spurred me into noting the articles I stumble across that are worth keeping about climate change.

Slowly I am rebuilding my journal content. I want to add my book reviews, daily entries, software development notes and general opines. I have new and old content to post and it takes time. BlogEngine.NET has been an interesting beast to work with. I like the features and the open source. I think this will help with merging my old content. I initially had difficulty with my web host. Administration pages are apparently in a reserved folder. This created a conflict with the BlogEngine.NET administrative pages. I had to edit the BlogEngine source and republish several times before I got that sorted out. I then had issues with the language resources for the site; solved by deleting the source folders and resources from the hosted application. I expect I will write-up my publishing issues for the world to see shortly.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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