New Options for Version Control for the Mac

If you’re writing code. Ever. Be it Java, Python, Objective-C, Perl, or plain old C, you really, really need to get in the habit of using a version control system for managing your code. It allows you to experiment, and to easily roll back your code if you completely mess something up.

There are several excellent and simple systems available. My preferred system is Git, but Mercurial is also an excellent, modern system to use. It’s also fairly easy to set up. And if you don’t want to mess around with the command line a lot, or don’t want to pay for the (excellent) Tower, then there’s a new, free option for managing your git repositories at the popular online service GitHub. (Note – you don’t need to host your repositories online – they never have to leave your computer. Unless you want to share them with other people not in your home or office).


Here’s one on the lighter side. A bunch of gamers got together and made a short video spoof of the Far East Movement song “Like a G6,” but revolving around a D&D theme. Basically, if you’re a gamer of any sort, or live with someone who plays Dungeons & Dragons (or any other RPG for that matter), you’ll get why this is funny.

First of all, thanks to the guys at the D6 Generation for mentioning it. Also, yes, the song is available on iTunes.

Customer Service, or, Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Oddly, as a consultant, I do NOT adhere to the policy that the
customer is always right. That said, you cut the customer a lot of
slack, and you don’t prevent customers doing something eminently

Enter ebay. It turns out that – reasonably enough, though they
don’t make it clear in advance – that they limit the number of big,
expensive, or particularly brand-conscious items that can be sold at
any time by a new seller. This limit varies depending on both whim and
the particular item being sold.

In practical terms, I can only list items like my older MacBook Pro that I’m
trying to sell once every 30 days, and I can only list one such item
at a time.

While it’s a bit wonky that I have to wait a month to re-list my
laptop if it doesn’t sell, that at least is somewhat reasonable. It’s
when you actually try to revise your listings that the real shock

You see, a revised entry is treated, temporarily, as if it is an
additional entry. If your item limit is one, you cannot revise your
entry. You cannot add pictures, you cannot edit the description, you
cannot do a single thing to change it. You start with one entry, you
end with one entry, for the same physical item that does not magically
duplicate itself no matter how ebay’s system sees it, but you cannot
revise it because they treat it as a new item.

If I remove it from sale, I can’t relist it for another month. if it
doesn’t sell because I wasn’t able to add more relevant information, I
can’t relist it for another month.

The kicker is that no one in their right mind considers revising an
existing item to be the same as adding a new item

So I’d like to follow ebay’s guidelines for professionalism. I’d
like to add pictures. I’d like to revise the description to be
more informative and accurate – and thus useful to buyers.

And because of a stupid decision in how to handle revisions to
existing objects that flies in the face of reality, I cannot.

iOS5 – Undervalued Changes

Looking through Apple’s page on iOS5 and its new features, many of them are being covered by the tech press, especially the new notifications (sorely needed). There are a few that have received scant attention, and yet I know will personally benefit me or people I directly know a lot. 

Calendar is expanding the available views so that the iPhone/iPod Touch version will now allow a week view. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve waited until I could open up iCal on my laptop in order to see the week at a glance.

Mail will now allow formatting, including bold, italics, and (most importantly for several people I know) indenting. My favorite new mail features are the ability to drag to arrange addresses, and the ability to manage folders.

Lastly, with an appleTV, the iPad2 can now be mirrored directly onto an HDTV over wifi.

There was not the classic “Steve” version of “One more thing”, but one new feature that has seen some mention in the press feels incomplete to me. There are also some things people were hoping for that were NOT announced.

There is a new messaging system built into iOS5 to supplement/coexist with MMS/SMS, but available to any iOS device even if not a cellular data plan – such as iPod Touches. I’m willing to be that like facetime, this is a feature that will be added to or made available to the Mac OS in Lion.

There have also been people talking about how movie streaming and a new AppleTV were not mentioned. My only reply is: All in good time. Apple is not positioning these things against Netflix, but once this infrastructure gets put in place, then movie streaming is such a no-brainer in terms of desirability that I’m sure we will see it.

One must remember – Apple no longer does annual announcements at MacWorld, etc. I suspect it’s because that lets them announce what features they want to, when they are good and ready to unleash something new.