Posts in Category "Mac Fanatic"

Down and Out with a Disk Failure

My machine had been getting slower and slower. Operations were taking longer and longer. I was spending more and more time watching the colorful pinwheel spin while mail was written to files and my browser read and wrote to its cache. Then apps starting freezing in such a way that they couldn’t be killed (either with “Force Quit” or kill -9). Every now and then I would have to power-cycle the machine, then finally, it didn’t come back up.

I’m not sure what happened, but I suspect my disk had become hopelessly fragmented from the amount of mail that I get which was causing the machine to hang during file IO operations. All it took was for me to turn it off one time at the wrong moment to create an “invalid sibling link” for which there is no recovery on OS X except to rebuild. I tried Disk Utility and I tried fsck. In fact, I discovered that Disk Utility is just GUI for fsck. Anyway, neither worked.

Fortunately, I had a second Mac around, and through firewire tricks and network access to the hosed machine, I was able to recover all my data. It took two full days, but I got back up and running. Now I own a 100GB external firewire drive, and I have vowed to never get lazy about backups again.

The lesson I learned here is that although OS X is like Unix, it isn’t Unix, and in particular, it isn’t Linux. At least in terms of the file system. By default, OS X uses HFS plus rather than a Unix file system, and apparently HFS plus has the potential to become very fragmented. I have also learned that Macs were not designed to take the amount of file abuse I tend to dish out as there are no good utilities out there (yet) for disk recovery and maintenance (unless you have classic installed, which I didn’t and still don’t). Fortunately, there are some coming.

I am going to try reinstalling OS X on my old machine, but this time, with a Unix filesystem rather than HFS plus. I have no idea what will happen, but it should be interesting. (Anyone out there tried this yet?) If nothing else, I should a truly case-sensitive Mac. The other solution might be to run OS X server. Presumably it is more robust than the standard edition.

Some Tips on Installing JRun 4 and CFMX on OS X

Where is java_home? I can’t find the Java binary!

Most people shouldn’t actually need to know where it is. Open up the terminal and just type “java”. If you see some usage instructions printed out, you are all set. Type “jar” and you should see something similar. Continue with the installation instructions and just leave out the “java_home” portion. In other words, the following command will work (assuming you are in the same directory as your jar file):

% java -jar coldfusion-j2ee-java.jar -i gui

(Don’t actually type the “%”. That represents your command prompt.) If, on the other hand, you see a “command not found” message, don’t worry. Try typing this, instead:

% /usr/bin/java


% /usr/bin/jar

Now you should see the usage information. If it still doesn’t work, however, type this:

% locate java | grep bin

This command will show you where any file called “java” is located in a directory with the word “bin” in it. If this doesn’t work for you, you better just email me.

The files “java” and “jar” aren’t actually located in /usr/bin — they are symbolically linked from another directory. Although you don’t need to know this, in case you are curious, the actual files are located here:


By the way, symbolic links (commonly referred to as “soft links”) are a very convenient way to make files appear as though they are in different directories than they actually are (or even multiple directories). They are similar to shortcuts on Windows. To learn more, type “man ln” at the command prompt.

What am I supposed to do with this file called “index.cgi”?

If you downloaded a file called index.cgi from Macromedia’s website, I’m guessing you are using Internet Explorer. “index.cgi” is the name of the program on Macromedia’s server than initiates the download, and IE mistakes that for the name of the file being downloaded. Not to worry. Just rename it by your favorite renaming process to whatever the documentation tells you it should be named.

If you have other FAQs, email me, and I’ll post answers.

Macromedia Announces CFMX and JRun for Mac OS X!

Yes, it’s all true. Macromedia is releasing JRun 4 and ColdFusion MX for J2EE Application Servers for Mac OS X today. Below we see an enthralled audience of future ColdFusion developers learn how straightforward and powerful ColdFusion is during the CFMX portion of the DMX presentation (picture courtesy of Matt Brown). Here are some relevant links:

Press Release:

Download Page:

Installation Instructions:

DesDev Article:

Please note that the following ColdFusion MX features are not supported by the OS X version:

  • Verity full-text search
  • C++ CFX (and any Windows-specific features, includilng ODBC services)
  • Crystal Reports integration
  • COM connectivity

Nobody gives a more exciting keynotes than Steve Jobs (except Kevin Lynch, Rob Burgess and Jeremy Allaire, of course). Send me your ideas on what you think will be unveiled by Steve Jobs at Macworld (hardware or software), and the first two people to get it right will win a free DRK CD. I only have two to give away, so get your guesses in quickly. (I was guessing iSync 1.0 and a new version iCal, but those have already been announced.) I will announce winners here on the 8th or 9th.

First Day of Macworld!

Fellow Mac Fanatics, the 6th is the first day of the 2003 Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. I was hoping to attend this year, but unfortunately I will not be able to make it. In order to try to capture some of the excitement of being there, however, I have put together a small Macworld contest. See the post for January 7th for details.