Browsing articles from "August, 2012"

Fixing Wireless in Linux, and Why This Should Matter to Apple

By Rob Warner  //  Linux, Mac  //  No Comments

In this post, I talked about my travails getting my son’s USB wireless adapter working in Linux. A few weeks later, it stopped working. Puzzling. I opened a terminal and ran:


The computer duly reported that it saw the USB wireless adapter. Then, I ran:

ndiswrapper -l

Yup, the driver was loaded. I checked /etc/modules and verified that ndiswrapper was listed. At that point, I had dangerously stretched my sysadmin abilities. Frustration descended, I set the computer aside, bought my son a MacBook Air, and sent him to college.

Last night, I finally got around to looking into the problem again. The device was still present, and ndiswrapper still had the driver loaded. I then tried:

sudo modprobe ndiswrapper

I got an error message: something about no such module existed. Hmm. I decided to rebuild and reinstall ndiswrapper. As I ran:

make && sudo make install

I realized that I’d probably updated his Ubuntu installation, and it probably included a kernel update, so the new kernel didn’t have that module. Duh. By chance I’d hit upon the solution. When I than ran:

sudo modprobe ndiswrapper

it worked fine and survived a reboot. Total rookie mistake.

Things like this, though, are IMHO why so many developers have moved to Mac OS X. We want the power of Unix without its headaches. We want to write code, not administer our machines. We don’t want to download and compile wireless drivers and figure out why we can’t get on the ‘Net. We don’t want to follow the politics of Gnome 3 or decide whether to switch to KDE or Xfce. Don’t get me wrong: Linux has come a long way and requires far less care and feeding than it used to, and there’s a whole lot to love about it. But the lower-maintenance Mac OS X is far too alluring for many developers, including myself.

After I wrote this, I came across Miguel de Icaza’s “What Killed the Linux Desktop.” And now I see it made Slashdot. Take the time to read this, keeping in mind that this guy is no Linux lightweight. He started the GNOME project, after all. Take that, Linux! You’re over! Apple won!

Yes, Apple has claimed a ton of developers that used to run Linux as their primary OS. They’ve also converted scads of developers from Windows to Mac OS X. And they’ve gotten a little too smug about that. See, the Linux expatriates can always go back to Linux. Even klutzes like me can administer our own Linux machines, keep things running, and get lots of development done. What’s more intriguing, though, is that former Windows users have now been trained, thanks to Apple, in all kinds of Unix-y things, and would now be far more comfortable in Linux than they would have been before. Apple might have won, but the game isn’t over.

When people talk about Apple’s overwhelming recent success, they point to the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and Mac OS X. Certainly all those are key, but that list ignores an essential ingredient that bedevils BlackBerry, Windows Phone Whatever, and even to an extent Android: the developers. People don’t generally buy an iPhone or an iPad or a Mac; they buy what an iPhone or an iPad or a Mac can do for them, which depends on apps. And a healthy app ecosystem. And app developers. Developers are almost invariably a leading indicator of a platform’s eventual success.

Apple has recently gone some directions that, while perhaps consumer-friendly, could be interpreted as developer-hostile. If Apple’s trajectory continues toward iOS-ifying Mac OS X and the App Store, developers may sour on Apple. If the Mac App Store becomes the only fount for installing Mac OS X apps, the developers are gone.

Where will we go? While Ballmer is betting on Windows 8, and certainly Windows 8 will claim some number of developers, most will go where bash (OK, or zsh) is a first-class citizen, Rails runs hiccup-less, and you can develop applications without Visual Studio (OK, hyperbole, but c’mon–it’s not far off). I see a Linux laptop in my future–assuming I can get it to connect to the Internet.


Good Job Apple, You (Screwed) the World – (by @baekdal)

By Rob Warner  //  Development, iOS, Software  //  No Comments

Good Job Apple, You (Screwed) the World – (by @baekdal):

The idea that one company can own non-inventions is absolutely appalling to me.


Nails it. Yes, Samsung was lazy and unoriginal and brazenly copied far too much, but this is not a victory for consumers. Or developers. This is a victory for big companies and patent trolls and lawyers. As always, money trumps common sense and the common good.

Another quote:

We cannot have a world where one company can say, “I’m the only one who is allowed to have the solution for this common problem” (like with Amazon one-click, or Apple tap-to-zoom).

Sadly, that is exactly the world we have, and it’s becoming more, not less, solidified that way.


More on Wang Ting — the copyright infringer swiping apps and selling them on the App Store

By Rob Warner  //  Development, iOS, Mac, Software  //  No Comments

More on Wang Ting:

It’s frustrating that Apple has no problem playing gatekeeper and keeping apps out of the store for the most trivial and arbitrary of reasons, but won’t play gatekeeper when presented with clear evidence of repeated copyright infringement. A serial infringer who is stealing the creative output of dozens of developers, designers, and publishers gets a pass because that’s the legal path of least resistance for Apple.

(Via iPhone Development)

So, this guy named Wang Ting is finding Github projects, swiping the code, removing copyright notices, ignoring licensing on those projects (the project in question requires attribution and preservation of copyright notice), and selling the apps on Apple’s app stores. Shady and illegal (IANAL)–and Apple isn’t doing much about it. Jeff LaMarche articulates the frustration pretty well, above, but that’s not even the best line in his post. That honor belongs to this gem:

Too bad protecting developers’ livelihoods is less deserving of gatekeeper protection than defending the App Store from an occasional nipple.

Anything that deters developers from sharing code is a bad thing, for developers AND for Apple. LaMarche not only has provided a free tool, but he’s also demonstrated many aspects of how to develop code for Mac OS X by providing the source. Code examples attract more developers to the platform, which results in more apps and more users. Apple has seemed more like Twitter lately, though: shifting focus from developers to users. When developers move on, the platform eventually dries up.

Fight the good fight, Jeff!


How to turn an upset customer into a happy customer

By Rob Warner  //  Software  //  No Comments

How to turn an upset customer into a happy customer:

To be generous and giving means a few people will take advantage of your kindness, but this shouldn’t stop you. Everything, even a complaint, is an opportunity. Be generous and humble.

(Via less everything – Home)

Good read. From good people.


The 100 Top Rated Amazon Items /via @macdrifter

By Rob Warner  //  Development, Software  //  No Comments

The 100 Top Rated Amazon Items [Link]:

My Amazon login experience is starting feel like walking past a cell phone reseller booth in a mall.

(Via Macdrifter)

One person’s cut at a different sort of landing page for Amazon–one that displays the 100 current top-rated items. Too busy for my tastes (too many items, too many social sharing buttons), but nice to see a different take. The line about the cell phone reseller booth, though, is classic.


Great work Visa, now I hate you

By Rob Warner  //  Development, Software  //  No Comments

Great work Visa, now I hate you:

If you want people to like you, give them something. If you want people to hate you, take something away from them. 

(Via Hacker News)

Sage advice. Remember it well when you’re developing software–adding features is usually a long-term commitment, as the cost to remove them can be astounding.


I'm Rob Warner, and I'm a software developer. I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and work for Availity, LLC. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Availity.