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Tonight was spent in troubleshooting—frustrating yet ultimately rewarding.
I'm even further behind in studying for med school Progress Exam 2 on Monday. Now I sleep, I guess, but not before describing what I did.

The first order of business was figuring out why my desktop G4 crashed on startup in Mac OS 9. Normally such a crash would succumb quickly to the greater force of Conflict Catcher, but in this case, Conflict Catcher refused to continue the conflict test after a crash occurred because it thought it hadn't started up. Apparently if Mac OS crashes before Conflict Catcher has a chance to load, it thinks you never started up at all, and refuses to let you specify the results of the conflict test. A bug fix or override would be rather useful.

After some tedious manual testing, I finally narrowed the problem down to Open Transport. Open Transport 2.8, installed as part of Jaguar's Classic Compatibility Environment, does not work in a native Mac OS 9 environment. The part that confused me was OT drawing an icon when it loads before Conflict Catcher. I kept on thinking it was the Ethernet driver icon, wondering where the driver was buried, when it turned out not to be so at all. I know they don't look all that similar, but it was late, I was tired…

Then I had to restart another 4 or 5 times, disabling Timbuktu and PGPservice one at a time. These programs, otherwise paragons of stability, reacted to the absence of Open Transport in a rather undignified manner: they crashed. I haven't had to do any typical Mac OS-style troubleshooting in a year or more, and thank goodness Mac OS X hasn't done anything this weird yet.

Tonight's second problem began a few months ago. I had problems retrieving certain attachments with Eudora from the mailserver I run at my parents' place, which is an upgraded Power Mac 9500 running Debian GNU/Linux and Courier. Long-time readers of this blog may remember me discussing its setup back in April.

Eudora would finish retrieving the attachment, then claim it couldn't decode it. The details are here. I emailed the courier-users list, and received no response. Last week I sent mail to Qualcomm, and was pleasantly surprised to receive an email identifying a possible cause and asking for a test account on the server. I was more than happy to oblige, but in the process of setting up the test account, I couldn't reproduce the problem! It turned out that Mutt was modifying the message slightly, to remove a mbox-like “From ” line from the beginning, and in the process caused Eudora to be able to receive it! Other IMAP clients I tried (Entourage, had no problems with either version.

I've sent the test account information, and my diagnosis, to Qualcomm. Hopefully one side or the other will figure out a solution, and I won't have to retrieve my mother's attachments for her in future.

The big news on the Subversion list tonight is Subversion: The Definitive Guide. You can probably guess from the title that it's going to be an O'Reilly book. There's a weird sort of symmetry as Karl Fogel, who works on Subversion but is not a primary author of the new book, has a copy of his CVS book at Congrats to Ben, CMike, and Fitz (who works for Apple, so I can't imagine the Mac will be given short shrift in the book).

Brent Simmons writes about switching from Eudora to Apple Mail, IE to Chimera, and dumping the Flash plugin. “Have I missed Flash? Are there other uses for Flash I'm sad about missing out on? Nope. I don't miss Flash in the least tiny bit.”

I use both Eudora and Mail (the beauty of IMAP), have switched almost entirely from IE to Chimera except for the very few sites I visit that use Java or the Windows Media plugin, and finally dumped the Flash plugin today: it causes about 99% of my Chimera crashes.

Unlike Brent, I do use and like Flash when it's put to creative uses rather than ads. One little-known feature of QuickTime is its Flash compatibility: starting with QuickTime 4, QuickTime version n supports Flash version n–1, which is sufficient to play the majority of Web content. QuickTime appears to do a much better job than the Flash plugin, and permits you to resize or navigate back and forward in Flash animations, great when you have a big screen (Flash is a vector format after all, so most animations scale smoothly) or want to watch just part of an animation. So, now when I really want to watch some Flash, I just view source, copy the .swf URL, and paste it into QuickTime Player's “Open URL” dialog box.

I'm back to using Archipelago (yay!). See this thread for discussion of the somewhat nonstandard commands required to ensure that your posts aren't made published prematurely.

Updates to two of my favorite Mac applications were released today. Path Finder 2.0 is a Finder replacement by Steve Gehrman, and Drop Drawers 1.6 is a tabbed launcher by Gideon Greenspan.

Path Finder is a major revision of SNAX, the product of six months of very hard work. It significantly improves dislpay speed, adds a ton of new features including approximate parity with the Jaguar Finder, and most importantly has a nice new icon (those of you beta testers who saw the “original” Path Finder icon will know what I'm talking about :-)).

Drop Drawers isn't quite as indispensible for me as it was before I started using LaunchBar. I hardly ever use Drop Drawers to launch applications directly any more, but for dragging and dropping, starting scripts, quick access to all running applications including background processes, or as a space to store temporary clippings, it's terrific. Version 1.6 finally appears to fix an annoying bug where Drop Drawers would go deaf to keyboard shortcuts, improves drawer opening speed (not that the old version was particularly slow), and adds drawer transparency. Drop Drawers has a huge amount of flexibility lurking under an elegant, drawing program-like interface.

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