Friday, January 13, 2006

More Brushed Metal hilarity

iLife ’06 From the Perspective of an Anthropomorphized Brushed Metal Interface.

Drag and drop meets text mode

No doubt I'm the last Mac OS X user on the planet to realise this, but Terminal windows will accept files dropped onto them, and the result is the full pathname of the file:
That's quite neat. I can't imagine ever using it, but it's neat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More on PowerBook on a Billion WLAN

The wireless LAN issues I described last month re-appeared two days ago. Firstly, I'll just recap the issue, since now I have some screenshots.

The initial symptom is straightforward: the PowerBook drops its connection to the Billion 7402 VGP's WLAN. The AirPort signal strength icon in the menu bar shows no signal, and the PowerBook has no network connection. As far as I have observed, this occurs when the PowerBook awakens from some period of sleep. Selecting "Sesame Street" (the SSID of the Billion's WLAN) from the drop-down menu causes the following dialog to be displayed:
AirPort failure
For the love of god, Apple, that is not helpful to anyone. I have written several times about Apple's consistently woeful error reporting, but this dialog seems to be aiming for some kind of prize—there's not even a hint of an indication of whether the PowerBook thinks the problem is local or remote. I'd be satisfied with a negative error number that I could at least type into Google.

As I reported last time, manually choosing an "Other..." network from the AirPort drop-down menu inexplicably does work.
Manual network choice
This time, however, it would only stay up for a few seconds at most. This symptom was new. And disappointing. A reboot of the PowerBook did not help.

After some intense Googling (not to mention some trawling through /var/log/system.log—thank god it's Unix), I believe I did solve half of the problem. The inability to re-connect by selecting the SSID from the AirPort drop-down seemed to be related to having a stale password in my "Keychain". Now, despite being a Mac proto-guru for all of eight months, I must admit that I do not really know what my Keychain is or what function it serves. Clearly, though, it stores some passwords. And ever more clearly, it wasn't updated when I changed the password for the WLAN in the Network Preferences dialog. After changing the password in the Keychain, I could get a five second connection to the WLAN. I'm prepared to let this one slide—maybe it was my fault. (But don't think that excuses utterly woeful error reporting, Apple!)

Desparate to get the wireless network working again, I opted for a quick round of the Microsoft Windows Problem Solving Technique. That is, I power-cycled everything in sight—the PowerBook and the Billion 7402. It worked. I am not at all happy about it (the problem or that particular solution), but it worked.