OS X Yosemite upgrade FileVault problem

When I upgraded to Yosemite, the installer offered to painlessly switch my hard drive to use FileVault 2 full disk encryption. I said yes. Unfortunately, the OS didn’t generate the recovery key that it was supposed to. I was left with an encrypted disk, and no recovery key I could file away in case I forgot my password. After some investigation, I discovered that you can ask OS X to create a new recovery key for you from the command line.

Why I bought a Mac (again)

While I use Linux for my day-to-day work, I have given in and purchased another Mac for my personal computing. This new MacBook Pro is a beautiful piece of hardware. The old one was, too. After some shaky early adventures with conventional aluminium casings, Apple settled on their unibody design, in which the entire machine is carved from a single piece of metal. This makes it amazingly robust, and basically lets the entire body work as one big heatsink.

Architecture sends a message

Architecture sends a message. Pierre Charles L’Enfant understood this back in the 1700s, when he designed the National Mall in Washington DC. Here’s a quote from his biographer: “The entire city was built around the idea that every citizen was equally important,” Berg says. “The Mall was designed as open to all comers, which would have been unheard of in France. It’s a very sort of egalitarian idea.” The democratically-elected Congress was given the prime location, instead of the White House.

SMS is useless

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of SMS, the mobile phone Short Message Service. Coincidentally, I needed to ask my cousin a question. He wasn’t available via instant messaging, so I resorted to sending a text message to his mobile number. A lot of people don’t realize that SMS is not guaranteed delivery. The network(s) may simply drop the messages if they lack capacity or if the recipient’s phone is out of service area.

Apple’s GPLv3 purge

Apple obligingly allows you to browse and download the open source software they use in OS X. Since they have listings for each version of OS X, I decided to take a look at how much software they were using that was only available under the GNU public license. The results are illuminating: 10.5: 47 GPL-licensed packages. 10.6: 44 GPL-licensed packages. 10.7: 29 GPL-licensed packages. 10.8: 22 GPL-licensed packages. 10.9: 19 GPL-licensed packages.

Wake up, Android device manufacturers

Apple’s Q4 results were its best ever. They even managed to claw back some marketshare from Android. This should be a loud wakeup call for Android device manufacturers. I’ve been an Android user for a couple of years now, but let me say that there are some areas where Apple wins hands down. Choice Too much choice is a bad thing. I like that Android has phones with and without keyboards, phones in a variety of sizes, and so on.


You may be familiar with SnowSaver and RedPill, two popular Mac screensavers I wrote. I recently signed up as a Mac developer, with the intention of making my screensavers available on the App Store. After some technical hurdles, I submitted my first screensaver, and it was rejected on the grounds that it didn’t provide enough functionality to be worthy of the App Store, because it was just a screensaver. I appealed the rejection, pointing out that there are already screensavers on the App Store.

Steve Jobs

At the risk of sounding like a Mac hipster, I was a Mac user before it became fashionable. For 20+ years I’ve used Macs, even staying with the company during the 1990s when it looked like Apple was about to collapse. In the house at the moment are four iPods, two Macs, an AppleTV, and an iPad. You might think that I would be joining in with the collective outpourings of grief.

iPad review

Work sent me an iPad to experiment with. Here is my review, from the perspective of a Mac user of 20+ years who firmly believes that tablet interfaces are the way of the future. (I even had a Newton.) What’s bad about the iPad This thing is heavy. Sorry, but it really is uncomfortable to use for any extended period, unless you prop it up on something–a knee, a cushion, whatever.

The computer for the rest of them

MacWorld has an article about the sense of disappointment and betrayal many of the old “Mac faithful” feel at Apple these days. I think it’s a bit brief and could use some expanding on. The Apple II was an open machine. Open architecture, anyone could program it. Steve Jobs wanted the Mac to be a closed appliance, but the hardware was quickly opened up as well as the software. The Mac really started to catch on once development environments like HyperCard allowed everyone to develop their own software, for free, and distribute it to anyone they liked.