Mac

OSCMS connectivity tip (for Mac)

After fighting to get back online after persistent connectivity problems, I've stumbled across the dummy solution: Network Diagnostics. Apparently that resets the connection more completely than simply trying to renew the lease within the Network settings. (One easy way to get it is to use Safari to call up a page. I know I know....)

Of course, if you're reading this, then you're online and not having any problems. Maybe you can pass this along to anybody finding themselves suddenly locked out.

(I'm sure there are more geeky ways to reset connections using *nix. Alas that's beyond me.)

More on the Project Management hunt

Since I wrote about it a few days ago, I've been spending what is starting to feel like way too much time searching for, researching, downloading and evaluating project management applications for OSX. One thing I find rather surprising is the virtual dearth of project management applications that can actually manage more than one project at a time.

FastTrack Schedule seems to have this capability, but only in a sort of one-way summary mode. You cannot change anything on the multiple project view that will carry back into the individual projects.

Meanwhile their GUI is a little stiff. I find myself repeatedly clicking on things, expecting to be able to edit or manipulate them, only to find out I can't. I realize this is a learning curve issue, and since FastTrack Schedule is up to version 9, I'm sure they are quite clear in their own minds as to appropriate work flows we're supposed to be using, but still I'm left a bit frustrated.

What's more, their help screen is a kludgy stale old browser thing that keeps popping open new windows -- and with my workflow in Firefox, that means a long array of tabs. If they can't even integrate that content into Mac help, I really wonder what their commitment is to OSX anyway.

I was hopeful of xTime, which is put out by a company that actually does develop directly for Mac, but their current version is a buggy affair, with incomplete line displays and frequent lock-ups, that hasn't been updated since March. I've had to force quite xTime more than I'd care to.

Now xTime does have a new version 4 coming out next month, but their current beta is available only for existing customers, and I don't have the luxury of waiting over a week just to try it out. When I wrote to ask whether I could evaluate their beta, I got a terse slacker-style response (no caps, no punctuation -- very professional, dudes!) that only existing customers get to try their new version's beta. So much for their wanting to draw in new customers. So xTime is going off the list.

Merlin2 is still on the list. It's relatively easy to use, but doesn't do all I want. Even though the beta I have has crashed a few times, which is frustrating, to say the least, the feature set seems to offer ease of use, and that counts for a lot. So I'm still evaluating there.

iTaskX shows some promise, but again fell short in the crucial area of multiple project management. Still, I love the clean nature of its Gantt -- very clean, with minimal (and optional) 3D effects (though I don't care for the squared-off path lines). The task list, though, is on the dry side, with few visual cues as to dependencies and hierarchies. The program seems to have an easy ability to share projects to a designated webserver, which is something that I'm sure will come in handy in the near future. Still, I'm not sure this is the one.

Which takes me back again to OmniPlan, which is by a company I admire. OmniPlan is on the basic side, and does not do what I need. But at least it's easy, and maybe I can just find some sort of workaround using iCal or something to actually try to coordinate our various projects into one time management workflow.

Mighty Mouse gets a Bluetooth

This is great news:

DailyTech and Engadget are showing off pictures from an FCC filing by Apple Computer of the new Mighty Mouse. It looks a lot like the old Mighty Mouse, minus the wire. It is being reported that the mouse will use two standard AA batteries and will be compatible with Tiger. However, the current Mighty Mouse works with Jaguar, albeit with reduced functionality, so it's likely that the Bluetooth model will do the same. In case you don't remember, the original Mighty Mouse had a few drawbacks, two of them being the cord and no Bluetooth, so that's two down.

And it's more than an FCC filing, it's here!

I love the Mighty Mouse because of its trackball, which is an order of magnitude better and easier to use than the big wheels other mice use. It takes a little practice to do the right-click thing, because the mouse is all one big form, so you have to really click over on the right side of the mouse to do things like view contextual menus, but that's an easy adjustment. I find the other mice to be archaic by comparison, just because of those big wheels.

The Mighty Mouse also has these side buttons that I confess I've not worked into my usage flow. But it's nice to know I have programmable power there.

I'm delighted that we can finally get rid of that darned cable, which is always getting in the way of my papers and such. But if it doesn't have a tail, shouldn't we call it the Mighty Gerbil?

More on Sony DRM and infected music CDs

Following up on what I just posted, it seems that Sony BMG is now being sued for damage their secret RootKit software has done to PCs:

Sony's now infamous decision to use system destabilizing DRM malware in order to "fight piracy" (despite it being shockingly easy to defeat) has earned Sony a lawsuit or three. A new class action suit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, another is expected in New York this week, and there have been a handful of rumblings in other countries, as well.

In California, the class action suit alleges that Sony's DRM has caused harm to computers, and that the company failed to disclose precisely what the DRM technology would do to users' computers. According to sources, the suit alleges three distinct violations of California law, including violations of statutes relating to deceptive trade practices and obfuscated technological measures deemed to be anti-consumer. The suit seeks an injunction against the sale of the effected CDs as well as monetary damages for those who purchased the discs.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also is considering legal action and is seeking information from affected customers.

What's more, now the "Stinx-E trojan" has appeared to exploit the Sony DRM software's code to open a back door to PCs.

And not only that, Mark Russinovich reports that the DRM software itself is harder to uninstall than many malicious viruses.

What's even more, Cory at BoingBoing links to Darren Dittrich's report that the Sony CDs also infect Macs:

I recently purchased Imogen Heap's new CD (Speak for Yourself), an RCA Victor release, but with distribution credited to Sony/BMG. Reading recent reports of a Sony rootkit, I decided to poke around. In addition to the standard volume for AIFF files, there's a smaller extra partition for "enhanced" content. I was surprised to find a "Start.app" Mac application in addition to the expected Windows-related files. Running this app brings up a long legal agreement, clicking Continue prompts you for your username/password (uh-oh!), and then promptly exits. Digging around a bit, I find that Start.app actually installs 2 files: PhoenixNub1.kext and PhoenixNub12.kext.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of anyone installing kernel extensions on my Mac. In Sony's defense, upon closer reading of the EULA, they essentially tell you that they will be installing software. Also, this is apparently not the same technology used in the recent Windows rootkits (made by XCP), but rather a DRM codebase developed by SunnComm, who promotes their Mac-aware DRM technology on their site.

EFF has a partial list of infected CDs:

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