Tag Archives: Apple

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011


Image Courtesy: WikiMedia

When I woke up earlier today, my wife told me about Steve Jobs‘ death (on October 5, 2011). I was speechless and really didn’t know what just happened. I am still thinking about Steve Jobs, and whatever he has said (quotes) I remember.

Steve Jobs’ influence and contribution is not limited to Apple Computers and competitors, it goes beyond — design, technology, product development and many other communities/disciplines.

He showed a different way to design and build products.

He has inspired me everyday of my life since I came to know him, probably some years before I started using Apple computers. I have repeatadly read and watched him talking/saying/presenting.

I have told his story to many folks over the years, and every-time I was motivated (by just talking about him).

Steve Jobs is an idea. He would always be with us.

A Developer’s Open Letter to RIM

Jamie Murai has written an open letter to RIM, the company behind Blackberry and Playbook. Jamie talks about his experience of setting up development environment for Playbook application development.

It seems, RIM has failed to attract developers, the credit goes to broken development process and tool-chain. One has to spend good amount of time (and money?) setting up development environment, building application and deploying the same to marketplaces.

Why would developers bother looking at Playbook development, when they have better options (iOS and Google Android), where  development, deployment and monetization is relatively very-very simpler.

Developer usability is very important. Any company that relies on developer community/ecosystem for their growth, should take some lessons from Jamie Murai’s open-letter, which enlists some important points/issues.

Read Jamie Murai’s Open Letter To RIM’s Developer Relations.

Mac OSX: Leopard to Snow Leopard Upgrade

Snow Leopard Installer DVD was delivered in our office on Saturday and I couldn’t wait to upgrade to Snow Leopard (10.6.x). I could have upgraded earlier, if Apple had enough stores and better reseller network in India.

Anyway, upgrade was smoother  compared with Tiger(10.4.x) to Leopard (10.5.x) upgrade. Installer UI has around 4-5 steps and none of steps mention “upgrade” word. Installer is smart enough to detect existing installations, figure out which printer drivers to keep or install. However, it chooses all languages (translation) to install even when you didn’t have those in Leopard.

Within fourty mintues, upgrade was completed and I was back in action.

However, In my case, I have to spend some more time to setup/fix things which were broken, such as:-

  1. Reinstalled MacPort using installer for snow-leopard and upgraded some of packages (libiconv, jpeg, libpng, libmycrypt, openssl, gettext, freetype, openssl, curl) and their dependencies for 64bit compatibilities (+universal, +variants)
  2. Compiled Apache, MySQL and PHP for 64 bit
  3. Reinstalled Remote Desktop Connection using latest installer to fix crash issue on Snow Leopard

If you don’t want to use MacPorts, you can download source of these libraries separately, compile and install. These would be installed in /usr/local unless you change the prefix.

Installing 64 bit version of Apache, MySQL and PHP took around two-three hours because of some issues related to libiconv.2.dylib. Apache would compile but fail to run, reporting incorrect version of libiconv. I downloaded libiconv source, compiled and installed it in /usr/lib (instead of /usr/local/lib). Apache started working but  vim, make, other unix programs (chmod, etc) failed to run using latest libiconv.2.dylib.

I tweaked the setting in /usr/sbin/envvars to use following:-

DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="/usr/lib:$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH"
export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH
export DYLD_FALLBACK_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib:/opt/local/lib:/sw/lib

Basically, added a fallback path so if library is not found in /usr/lib, it would look into other directors, as specified.  After doing this, Apache (64bit) and vim, make, chmod, etc started working.

MySQL compilation was straight forward with following command, thanks to this link, I just added CFLAGS=”-arch x86_64″  while compiling to make sure mysql is compiled for 64 bit. Moved data directory back to new mysql installation directory.

Compiling php 5.2.13 resulted into some errors related to iconv, hash and gd. After spending sometime, I decided to compile without these extensions with following commands:

MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET=10.6
CFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe -no-cpp-precomp"
CCFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe"
CXXFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe"
LDFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -bind_at_load"
export CFLAGS CXXFLAGS LDFLAGS CCFLAGS MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET
./configure --prefix=/usr/local/php5 --exec-prefix=/usr/local/php5 --disable-dependency-tracking --sysconfdir=/private/etc --with-apxs2=/usr/sbin/apxs --enable-cli --with-config-file-path=/etc --with-libxml-dir=/usr --with-openssl=/usr --with-kerberos=/usr --with-zlib=/usr --enable-bcmath --with-bz2=/usr --enable-calendar --with-curl=/usr --enable-exif --enable-ftp --without-gd --with-jpeg-dir=/opt/local/lib --with-png-dir=/usr/local/lib --with-freetype-dir=/usr/X11R6 --with-xpm-dir=/usr/X11R6 --with-ldap=/usr --with-ldap-sasl=/usr --enable-mbstring --enable-mbregex --with-mysql=mysqlnd --with-mysqli=/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql_config --with-pdo-mysql=/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql_config --with-mysql=/usr/local/mysql --with-mysql-sock=/tmp/mysql.sock --with-iodbc=/usr --enable-shmop --with-snmp=/usr --enable-soap --enable-sockets --enable-sysvmsg --enable-sysvsem --enable-sysvshm --without-xmlrpc --without-iconv --with-xsl=/usr

#if everything goes well
make

#if everything goes above, install php5 in /usr/local/php5
sudo make install

I checked (php -m) some extensions (xdebug, etc) were not loading, so I updated those individually, specially iconv, xmlrpc and gd. Compiling an extension is generally four step process. For example, if you want to compile iconv, you can do the following:

$ cd /php-source/ext/iconv
$ phpize
$ ./configure --with-iconv=/usr
$ make
$ sudo make install

It all worked fine, apache was loading php fine and all my websites and applications work fine.

Apple India: Broken Service Process

In India, Apple service doesn’t work well. As far as I know, most of Apple customers in India end up paying more to purchase the same products than someone in USA or other countries.

Why are we treated as second class citizens?

Anyway, the current Apple support process in India seems to be:-

  1. Register service-request with Apple India over phone
  2. Take your Apple device to nearest apple-authorised service-provider (AASP)
  3. Give the case-id given by Apple India Support(in step #1 above) to AASP
  4. AASP would run the diagnostic tests, if required, get the parts and fix things.

You might think, that’s a nice process and should work fine?

There are some issues in above process:-

  • Apple India might not register your request and can get away by saying your hardware is overused and not covered in warranty anymore. Unless you are confident and technical enough to explain them things. Not everyone can do that.
  • Not all cities have any authorised service-providers
  • AASP might not be trained enough to deal things as per Apple standards.
  • AASP might have broken process within their organisations, i.e. it takes them days to get details/approvals from their own headquarters and bosses.
  • AASP might miss a step or two required before they can order the parts. If they do it, later Apple makes their life miserable by asking many questions. Eventually a customer suffers.

My recent experience with Apple support process has not been good. Continue reading

Apple TV + Boxee.tv = Great Experience

I own an Apple TV for quite some time, I just loved the form factor of the device and figured out, it’s really good stuff. I could see all the photographs, watch all podcasts/videos and listen most of music, more often on Apple TV than before.

As we all know, Apple builds innovative products but at the same time, it does suck by keeping it’s platform very closed. Be it iPod, iPhone or Apple TV, it’s just really hard to do anything except the ones Apple wants you to do.

Anyway, thanks to the great community of hackers, who spend hours figuring out things and building some great stuff. Some great hackers came up with various ideas to open the closed Apple TV, well initially it was physically opening up the box but later on smarter solutions appeared. Now it’s so simple, one can patch (enable SSH and install some apps) Apple TV by using patchstick, it doesn’t require you to open the box physically.

I can mount my USB disks and use keyboard/mouse in the patched Apple TV. Well that opens to a lot of possibilities.
With the simpler patching process, a lot of applications for Apple TV started appearing, one of such products is Boxee.tv, which is a media-center application. Of course, Boxee is available for all other platforms (Windows, GNU/Linux, OSX, etc) but I believe, it’s the best companion of Apple TV like devices.

I have been having good time using Boxee on Apple TV. I can not only play all my media (pictures, videos, music) in much better way but also enjoy online stuff (music, videos, podcasts, pictures, etc), be it recommended by my friends in Boxee social network or various other channels/apps available on Boxee.

Boxee can download movie-subtitles and show with a great ease. It can also fetch a lot of metadata (covert-art, album-art, thumbnails, information, ratings, reviews, etc) for videos/music from various online databases (f.ex. IMDB, etc).

The latest version (still in testing: 0.9.9.5324 build) allows you to easily install various applications made for Boxee by community or Boxee developers?

I even noticed, Boxee can run applications that are based on Adobe Flash Platform, yeah Joost or MTV feeds/apps are Adobe Flash based.

The best thing, Boxee is based on XBMC, an open-source application. I think, it’s worth writing a post about Boxee, hence I just did that. Boxee.tv rocks!!!

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Apple Service – my experience

My macbook has started having problems now, after 29 months. It had some problems around an year back but I got it fixed at a local reseller more on personal terms than professional (via Apple Support).

Apple has great products but any great product without good service is of no use. Specially, now I am in a city where I would not find any Apple reseller or service-provider. I don’t want to travel to New Delhi or even Lucknow, there is no certainty that things would be done in time or would be done at all. I am not sure, if local service-providers are trained enough to do quality service?

Apple needs it’s own centers.

Anyway, it seems Apple is yet to grow in India. Perhaps, they would, since their products are quite competitive with other brands in India.
BTW! My macbook might qualify for battery-extension program, but Apple tech support and customer relationship deny that. They say, your macbook is too old (29 months) and battery should be replaced, oh that means I am going to pay at least 4-5 K (INR)?

BTW! I am quite impressed to see HP’s support in Kanpur, if not India. They are amazing, we have got some 4-5 HP notebooks and it’s really impressive to see how HP has been good to us. They don’t even keep our notebooks, if hardware procurement is required and it might take days, they would rather call us as soon as hardware is available and replace things on spot. That’s nice thing, they really understand how important a notebook is to it’s owner.

I was avoiding to write about Apple Service, but I couldn’t resist specially after being denied to the support I am supposed to get, even when I explained them how hard it is to get service done here.