Friday, December 16, 2011

That not so fresh feeling

So last night I decided that I had enough of Safari crashing randomly, and dying completely when I tried to upgrade it. I knew that somewhere along the line something had gone wrong with my system, and it was time to admit that the prudent thing to do was to wipe the system and install a fresh copy of Lion.

Now I had basically been running the same OS install since 2007, which was originally a (short lived) install of Tiger, followed by Leopard once it was released that fall, then Snow Leopard and finally Lion this year. People will say "oh, well, you really should do a fresh install when a new OS comes out, so that..." and then their train of thought goes off into some cargo-cult chicken-bone-rune casting mumbo jumbo, or at least the technological equivalent thereof.

The thing is, so long as the filesystem itself isn't corrupted, there should be no difference between a freshly installed system and one that had been upgraded from a previous install, no matter how long ago that install was performed. Any deviation therein is nothing less than a failure on the part of the developers, in this case Apple's OS division. And so, to Apple's MacOS release packaging team, I have one thing to say: Son, I am disappoint.

But my disappointment runs deeper than that. You see, on windows there exists a little known utility called "SFC", which stands for "System File Checker". As the name implies, it runs a checksum over all (or most) of the important system files and can replace any that deviate from expectations. As far as I can tell, though, there's no equivalent to this on MacOS X.

The sad thing is it would be dead simple to integrate into Disk Utility. There's already a framework in place, the ever so lovely "repair permissions" routine that seems to be the first line of action in every OS X tech support script. It would, in theory, be quite simple to extend this to record and verify checksums on all the vital files, and then, at the very least, indicate which files are damaged if not replace them automatically.

In the mean time, though, I'm at least glad that nuking the drive from orbit, reinstalling, and migrating the data, apps and settings back from my time machine drive is at least a reasonably seamless process.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Via a series of tubes, no doubt

Apparently G+ and Blogger have joined forces to allow automatic sharing of blog posts to G+.

I am trying this out now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jet Airliners, Tractor Pulls, and Math

Recently a friend of mine made a post about the AF-447 crash and some of the human factors involved. One of the things he noted was that the thrust levers were not designed to indicate, by their position, the current thrust setting of the engines they controlled. At first glance, this seems an odd decision, but there is indeed a method to the madness.

Before we dive into that method, we first need to take a little detour through the deliciously redneck world of competitive tractor pulling. Yes, you read that right, tractor pulling...