Monday, October 17, 2011

Why good metrics do not equal good quality

A short while ago I posted an article on the codecentric blog about why good metrics can be, but need not be equal to good software quality. As I wrote earlier, I will add links to this blog whenever I post something of interest to the company site.

The post is available in both English and German at

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

List all open Safari tabs across windows

Over the course of a workday I tend to accumulate lots of browser windows, and even more tabs inside them.  Up to now, I would often lose track of what which tabs were open in which window and in which space. In the end, I would often just open a page again in a new tab of the window I happened to be in at the moment, increasing the overall clutter.
With the advent of persistent application state across reboots or application restarts as well as fullscreen apps in Mac OS X Lion that situation has gotten even worse.

The "Window" menu in Safari does not help too much, because it only shows the tabs of the currently focussed window. Today, while wondering why a website was not displaying correctly, I accidentally found a remarkably simple (and built-in!) way of showing all open tabs across all open Safari windows.

Just hit Cmd-Alt-A or pick "Activity" from the Window menu in any Safari window to open or focus the Activity overlay window.

It is usually used to determine what servers different parts of any given website are loaded from. However, even if you are not interested in that, this little popup contains a list of all currently open tabs, regardless of the window they are in.

Double clicking any entry in there will take you to the correct window and focus the desired tab. Nice and easy, not even an extension needs to be installed :) The only drawback I see is that you cannot sort that list, clicking the "Address" column header has no effect.

A final tip: When you open the window, it might have one or more of the entries expanded, making the list overly long. Even though there is no collapse-all feature I could find, you can rather quickly do so manually by selecting the top entry in the list and then repeatedly hit the left and down arrow keys. Left arrow will close the currently selected item, down arrow move to the next entry. Even with lots of tabs listed, within a few seconds you should make your way all the way down, leaving a nice clean list of tabs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 needs to take control

After my recent Mac OS X 10.7 Lion upgrade I was greeted with a dialog box after reboot telling me that needs to take control of another process for debugging to continue. Type the name and password of a user in the "Developer Tools" group to allow this.

No problem, I thought, and entered my credentials. Alas, to no avail. My name and password were rejected, which had me a little panicked at first, because I thought the OS upgrade might somehow have botched my account, potentially locking me out of my Mac later.

Hitting cancel would only get rid of the message for a few seconds, then it would reappear, again and again.
Turns out the solution was quite easy: Go the Mac App Store and download Xcode 4.1. Once the installer has finished downloading, run it to replace the Snow Leopard version of Xcode 4.0 with a Lion compatible one. Once that is done, the message will not appear again.

Please note: Maybe I could somehow have fiddled with my accounts privileges and group memberships, but as I needed Xcode anyhow, installing the correct version seemed the logical thing to do.
And by the way: Should the Xcode 4.1 installer seem to take forever, make sure there not this little popup hidden behind some of the other Windows on screen:

The installer will stall, until you close iTunes and the iTunesHelper (which may be running, even if iTunes is not. Use Activity Monitor to quit iTunesHelper if needed.)

Update: Apple has released an update to the Xcode 4.1 installer (4.1.1), which will fix this (iTunes) problem. As the release notes say, if you have already installed it, there is no need to update, as the included software is the same as before:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lion Finder Source List Icon Size

[Update]As can be read on Mac OS X Hints here, this setting also applies to the side bar in Mail.[/Update]

Apple has - as was to be expected - slightly modified the appearance of many Mac OS X controls in 10.7 "Lion". Some of those changes have caused protest and debate around the net, but I believe this is just the same as it is with face-lifted car designs, which means in a few weeks everyone will have gotten used to the new style and consider the previous version old-fashioned.

However, there is one particular little issue that I could tell I would not come to like immediately: The icons - and more importantly the font-size - in the Finder's left hand sidebar is way bigger than it was in Snow Leopard. This makes the source list look much more cluttered in my opinion.

At first, I headed for the Finder's View Options context menu, but there's nothing there to change the sidebars appearance. A little more digging then brought me to the General preference panel in System Preferences (previously called Appearance). There you can make the desired change:

The following pictures show the three choices (Small, Medium, Large) with Medium being the default. Set to Small the Finder looks much friendlier again.


Oh, and while you're at it, you might also want to change Show Scroll Bars setting to When scrolling, instead of Always or Automatically based on input device if you like me sometimes use an older mouse.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Short Story on a Waste Of Time

This is about wasting a lot of time, effort and some energy on an unfortunately not so successful transition from smaller to bigger disks. Actors include a few external drives, Time Machine, an iMac with a dying system disk and me, being a little stupid. Fortunately there were no really serious consequences, however if I ever face a similar situation again, I might come here and read up on how to migrate systems and backups more sensibly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Using JMeter to measure binary protocols

This is just a short post linking to an entry I recently posted on my company's blog. It is about Using JMeter to measure binary protocols, which I recently had to do in a customer project.

It is very well possible that in the future there might be more posts there than here, but I will make sure there are links posted to this blog. Please note, that the JMeter article is available in both English and German.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

iOS Feature creep hurts usability

I have been a user of the iPod Touch from day one. With the iPhones being tied to unreasonably expensive mobile phone contracts it was never an option for me to buy one just for fun. But when the iPod Touch was announced I knew this was my device. I have been updating iOS whenever there was an update available, and usually I was pleased with what Apple had refined and added.

However, one thing has been bothering me for some time now, and I did not know if it was me getting older, or if really something had changed with the OS.

Monday, January 24, 2011

On Writing a Book, Pt. 5 - The Contract

This is part five of an ongoing series about my experiences while writing the MySQL Admin Cookbook for Packt Publishing. All previous parts can be found under the mysql-admin-cookbook label.

After the initial discussions about the book’s outline which I described in part 2 of this series were underway, talks about the actual writing contract started. Naturally, neither Udo nor I had any experience with publishing companies and the contracts between them and their authors. Add to that the fact that we are both from Germany and had had little to no experience with English legal stuff of any kind - apart from the usual 5000 pages EULAs you just “agree to” by clicking the “go away” button as quickly as possible - and you will probably understand that we were a little nervous about what we should expect.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TotalFinder - A must have addition to Mac OS X

As a former long time Windows user I have quite successfully (and since Steam has arrived completely) transitioned to the Mac platform. It took some time, but over the past two and a half years I have found replacements and substitutes for most programs I used regularly on Windows for everyday tasks and must say I don’t look back.

Ok, there are some things I installed to make the base system a little more comfortable, e. g. by installing Better Touch Tool or iStat Menus which allow for better leveraging of available hardware features. But other than that - I haven’t made up my mind about TextExpander yet - there is little left to be desired.

Except: File and window management… Say what you will about Windows, but one are where it still runs circles around stock Snow Leopard is window and file management. Aero Peek - docking Windows to the screen edges and having them become exactly half the screen size - is a welcome addition to BTT, and Exposé is also usable. But still, the Windows explorer IMHO is still a better file manager than the Finder.

I cannot even tell you the exact details of what I am missing, but the fact alone that there is no default system shortcut like Win+E which brings up a new Explorer/Finder window is a major downside of the Mac OS.

Quite recently, however, I came across TotalFinder in some podcast (sorry, cannot really remember, might have been Bits und so) and gave it a try. It’s author Antonin Hildebrand took the open source code that is used in Google’s Chrome browser to implement the tabs and put together a nice little piece of software that pimps your Goold-Ole-Finder.

There are lots of features, the primary one being the addition of said tabs to regular Finder windows, which itself already helps to tame the window clutter you normally end up with when using the Finder. Basically, when TotalFinder is installed, instead of opening a new window for each directory you want to use, a new tab is added to the last Finder window that was opened. Of course, you can still have multiple windows, and you can even tear off existing tabs and spawn them into new windows that way, just as you can do with websites in Chrome.

But my favorite feature of all is what Antonin calls the Visor: A configurable hot key slides up a (optionally multi-tabbed) Finder window from the bottom of your screen - similar to the way the iPhone brings up the keyboard. It works just like any other (Total)Finder window and automatically disappears once it loses focus or you hit the escape key (also configurable). IMHO this is insanely useful, because you never have to worry about filling up your desktop with countless Finder instances - they are all nicely kept in tabs, out of sight by default but just a single keystroke away and all at your disposal at the same time. This alone would be a great tool already.

But there’s still more… If you are like me, you like the classic two-column file manager paradigm of Directory Opus or Norton Commander fame, depending on which platform you grew up on. TotalFinder has that, too. Although it does not always work perfectly, probably because it has to be a rather hacky way to integrate this into the OS, I still find the “Dual Mode” a cool feature. It just splits a Finder window, including the Visor, in half vertically and mirrors the source list on both sides. That way you can easily choose two directories to be visible at the same time and move or copy files between them without switching windows or tabs. This, too, is just a shortcut away.

All in all, after two weeks of trying it for 8 to 10 hours a day on my MacBook Pro without a single crash, I can wholeheartedly recommend total finder. And prices between $10 and $15 should not really cause you much trouble, either. Depending on what you like, this is less than one or two iPad games - but TotalFinder is just so much more useful :)